China

New flu virus found in Chinese pigs presents pandemic risk

Hygiene & Biosecurity

A team of researchers found a “G4” strain of H1N1 with all the "essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus".

Posted on Jun 30 ,06:35

New flu virus found in Chinese pigs presents pandemic risk

Chinese researchers warn about the risk of a new pandemic crisis created by a “G4” strain of H1N1 virus found in pigs between 2011 and 2018. Their study was recently published by the U.S. journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), informs Reuters. While the risk of a massive outbreak among humans does not seem imminent, scientists are recommending "close monitoring in human populations", especially for the workers in the swine industry, to be urgently implemented.
Pig farm workers in China have been found with elevated levels of the virus in their blood, according to the study, and the existence of densely populated regions in China, where millions live in close proximity to farms, breeding facilities, slaughterhouses and wet markets amplifies the risk for a new pandemic crisis. The PNAS study said pigs are considered important “mixing vessels” for the generation of pandemic influenza viruses and called for “systematic surveillance” of the problem. China took action against an outbreak of avian H1N1 in 2009, restricting incoming flights from affected countries and putting tens of thousands of people into quarantine. The new virus identified in the study is a recombination of the 2009 H1N1 variant and a once prevalent strain found in pigs.
China is also the country of origin for COVID-19 and the nature of the virus stirred high-level debates among countries impacted by the disease. Officially, the coronavirus that caused the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is believed to have originated in horseshoe bats in southwest China and could have spread to humans via a seafood market in Wuhan, where the virus was first identified.

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