A new strain of swine flu virus identified in pigs in China has the potential to spread to humans and cause another pandemic like COVID-19, researchers claim.
Experts from the Chinese Academy of Sciences say pigs are a ‘key intermediate host’ or ‘mixing vessel’ for viruses spreading from wild animals into humans.
The Chinese research team has been studying outbreaks of swine flu in pig farms across the country since 2011, and say the latest strain can pass to humans.
Only two people are confirmed to have caught the virus, dubbed G4 EA H1N1, since the first outbreak in 2016, but researchers say it is ‘highly adapted’ to infect humans.
Researchers called for monitoring of farms and people working on or near them, as further transmission could cause the virus to ‘adapt and become a pandemic’.
The news comes as the world is in the grip of a coronavirus pandemic that originated in China and is thought to have passed from bats to humans via an intermediary animal.
The global death toll from Covid-19, the disease caused by this strain of coronavirus, has now exceeded half a million people.
A strain of the swine flu virus has become prevalent in pigs in China and has the potential to spread to humans and become another pandemic, researchers claim. Stock image
Experts from the Chinese Academy of Sciences say pigs are a ‘key intermediate host’ or ‘mixing vessel’ for viruses spreading from wild animals into humans. Stock image
The two confirmed cases of the G4-like EA H1N1 virus in humans are a 46-year-old, who was diagnosed in 2016, and a 9-year-old, who was diagnosed in 2019.
‘Epidemiological survey found that the two patients had neighbours who reared pigs, suggesting that G4 EA virus could transmit from swine to human, and lead to severe infection and even death,’ the authors say.
Researchers didn’t go into details over the symptoms, as the virus hasn’t spread widely in humans, but in tests of the virus in ferrets they found symptoms such as fever,…
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