A new flu virus has been discovered in China that can reportedly infect humans and that experts are warning has “pandemic potential” as the world still grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, which also originated in China.
Scientists say that the new flu strain was recently discovered in pigs and they are “concerned that it could mutate further so that it can spread easily from person to person, and trigger a global outbreak,” the BBC reported. “They say, it has ‘all the hallmarks’ of being highly adapted to infect humans and needs close monitoring. As it’s new, people could have little or no immunity to the virus.”
The world is still battling the coronavirus, which originated late last year in Wuhan, China, and has devastated economies around the world along with killing hundreds of thousands of people.
“Professor Kin-Chow Chang and his colleagues at Nottingham University say they are closely monitoring this new strain, which they are calling G4 EA H1N1,” Fox News reported. “The new strain, of which they found evidence among people who work in Chinese slaughterhouses, can grow and multiply in the cells lining human airways.”
“Right now we are distracted with coronavirus, and rightly so,” Kin-Chow said. “But we must not lose sight of potentially dangerous new viruses.”
The new virus is named G4 and is genetically related to the H1N1 virus strain that caused a pandemic in 2009.
“From 2011 to 2018, researchers took 30,000 nasal swabs from pigs in slaughterhouses in 10 Chinese provinces and in a veterinary hospital, allowing them to isolate 179 swine flu viruses,” The South China Morning Post reported. “The researchers then carried out various experiments including on ferrets, which are widely used in flu studies because they experience similar symptoms to humans – principally fever, coughing and sneezing.”
G4 was reportedly found to be “highly infectious” and caused “more serious symptoms” in the ferrets than the other viruses did.
“According to blood tests which showed up antibodies created by exposure to the virus, 10.4 per cent of swine workers had already been infected,” The South China Morning Post added.
James Wood, head of the department of veterinary medicine at Cambridge University, said, “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.”
This is a developing news story, refresh the page for updates.
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