New virus in pigs could infect humans, say Chinese researchers
SHANGHAI (CHINA) – A new flu virus identified in Chinese pigs has become more infectious to humans and it needs to be watched closely in case it becomes a potential “pandemic virus”, revealed a study. However, experts said there is no imminent threat.
A team of Chinese researchers studying influenza viruses in pigs from 2011 to 2018 found a “G4” strain of H1N1 that has “all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus”, according to the paper, published by the US journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Pig farm workers also showed high levels of the virus in their blood, the study said, adding that “close monitoring in human populations, especially workers in the swine industry, should be urgently implemented.”
The study highlights the risks of viruses crossing the species barrier into humans, especially in densely populated regions in China, where millions live in close proximity to farms, breeding facilities, slaughterhouses and wet markets.
The PNAS study said pigs are considered important “mixing vessels” for the generation of pandemic influenza viruses and urged “systematic surveillance”.
During the outbreak of avian H1N1 in 2009, China restricted incoming flights from affected countries and putting tens of thousands of people into quarantine.
The new virus identified in the study is a recombination of the 2009 H1N1 variant and a once prevalent strain found in pigs.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field