June 30, 2020
Researchers in China discover new swine flu with pandemic potential
Researchers in China have published a study in US science journal PNAS about the discovery of a new type of swine flu called G4 that could cause a pandemic, AFP reported.
The G4 swine flu is genetically descended from the H1N1 strain, a pandemic that occurred in 2009.
The researchers based at Chinese universities and China's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said G4 has the potential of infecting humans.
30,000 nasal swabs were obtained from slaughterhouse swine between 2011 to 2018. 179 swine flu viruses were isolated from 10 provinces and a veterinary hospital.
The majority were new types of viruses dominant in swine since 2016.
Experiments were conducted on ferrets (as they experience similar human symptoms such as fever, cough and sneezing). G4 was highly infectious in the tests, resulting in serious symptoms in ferrets compared to the other virus.
The tests have also found that immunity gained from seasonal flu exposure will not protect humans from G4.
Based on blood tests, 10.4% of swine workers have been infected by G4, with at least 4.4% of the general population exposed to the virus.
There is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted between humans.
The researchers have urged that action be taken to monitor swine workers.
Professor James Wood, head of the department of veterinary medicine at Cambridge University said the emergence of zoonotic pathogens from farmed animals poses a greater risk than with wildlife.