Swine flu with ‘human pandemic potential’ found in China

Elias Hubbard
June 30, 2020

Scientists have identified another emerging flu virus that poses "the risk of a human pandemic" in China, as the world continues to battle Covid-19. The study allowed them to identify and isolate a whopping 179 swine flu viruses, however this G4 strain was of the biggest concern.

It is carried by pigs, but it is capable of infecting humans.

Sun Honglei, the paper's first author, says G4's inclusion of genes from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic "may promote the virus adaptation" that leads to human-to-human transmission.

Kin-Chow Chang, a professor at Nottingham University in the United Kingdom, said it hasn't posed a big threat so far.

"Of concern is that swine workers show elevated seroprevalence for G4 virus".

"G4 virus has shown a sharp increase since 2016, and is the predominant genotype in circulation in pigs detected across at least 10 provinces", they write.

"The main finding is that the dominant influenza strain now circulating in pigs in China shows potential for human to human transmission (based on animal models)".

While this new virus is not an immediate problem, he says: "We should not ignore it".

Researchers have discovered a new strain of flu that could have dramatic repercussions for the world.

As it's new, people could have little or no immunity to the virus. Symptoms are similar to that of regular human influenza and can include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, coughing, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

There is no evidence yet that G4 could spread from person to person - perhaps the most promising sign so far, said Carl Bergstrom, a professor of biology at the University of Washington.

The scientists have reportedly found that 10.4 percent of the swine workers have already been exposed to the virus and the 4.4 percent of the general population has been exposed.

Researchers warn that close monitoring is required because the virus is highly contagious and has "all the essential hallmarks of being highly adapted to infect humans".

It has been named the G4 or G4 EA H1N1.

Although it was initially feared to be a serious risk to health, H1N1 ultimately turned out to be a mild illness.

The last pandemic caused by swine flu in 2009 caused less damage than expected because of the immunity people had to it.

The Centres for Disease Control in the U.S. has estimated that the 2009 swine flu outbreak caused the deaths of between 150,000 and 575,000 people worldwide.

Eighty per cent of the fatalities were estimated to have occurred in people younger than 65 years of age.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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