New swine flu virus
Scientists warn of possible new pandemic
In China, they discovered a new swine flu virus that could trigger a future pandemic. Although to date there is no imminent threat, experts in infectious diseases stressed that it is important to study this new virus, since they confirmed that Chinese pigs are increasingly infected with this strain of influenza, which has the potential to spread to the humans.
It is a new type of swine flu that can infect humans. The disease, which the researchers called the G4 virus, is genetically descended from the H1N1 swine flu that caused a global pandemic in 2009.
The researchers discovered G4 during a pig surveillance program that ran from 2011 to 2018, in which they collected more than 30,000 pig nasal swab samples from slaughterhouses and veterinary teaching hospitals in 10 Chinese provinces. Of these samples, the researchers identified 179 swine influenza viruses, but not all of them were of concern. Some only appeared one year out of the show's seven, or eventually declined to non-threatening levels. But the G4 virus continued to appear in pigs, year after year, and even showed a sharp increase in the swine population after 2016.
Chinese researchers say this new type of swine flu has the potential to cause a future pandemic. But scientists around the world warn that the virus does not currently appear to pose an immediate threat to global health.
Pigs are considered important hosts or mixing vessels for the generation of pandemic influenza viruses. Systematic surveillance of influenza viruses in pigs is essential for early warning and preparation for the next potential pandemic, "the researchers wrote in the study.
According to the researchers, G4 can infect humans and can rapidly replicate within our airway cells. And although G4 contains H1N1 genes, people who have received seasonal flu vaccines will not have immunity.
G4 already appears to have infected humans in China. In Hebei and Shandong provinces, both places with high numbers of pigs, more than 10 percent of pig workers on pig farms and 4.4 percent of the general population tested positive in a 2016-2018 survey .