Chinese researchers have identified a new type of swine flu which has the potential of triggering a pandemic, according to a study published in the US science journal PNAS.
The new flu is named G4 and according to researchers it is genetically descended from the H1N1 strain that sparked a pandemic in 2009.
It possesses “all the essential hallmarks of being highly adapted to infect humans”, said the authors, scientists at Chinese universities and China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The findings of the study were published on Monday.
The study was conducted between 2011 and 2018 and during this time period the researchers collected 30,000 nasal swabs from pigs in slaughterhouses in 10 Chinese provinces and in a veterinary hospital. The samples helped the researchers isolate 179 swine flu viruses. After thorough examination it was found that majority of the viruses were of a new kind that has been dominant among pigs since 2016.
The researchers then conducted some more experiments – including on ferrets. It is to be noted that the researchers decided to use ferrets because they experience similar symptoms to humans.
“It is of concern that human infection of G4 virus will further human adaptation and increase the risk of a human pandemic,” the researchers wrote.
The researchers asserted that urgent measures are needed to monitor people working with pigs.
James Wood, head of the department of veterinary medicine at Cambridge University, told Guardian: “The work comes as a salutary reminder that we are constantly at risk of new emergence of zoonotic pathogens and that farmed animals – with which humans have greater contact than with wildlife – may act as the source for important pandemic viruses.”
Source Name - ZEE News