A new strain of flu identified in pigs has been found in China by scientists and it has the potential to infect humans and trigger a pandemic.
In a study published on June 29, 2020, researchers identified a new strain of influenza called the genotype 4 (G4) reassortant Eurasian avian-like (EA) H1N1 virus, or G4 EA H1N1 virus.
Virus needs to be closely monitored
The study reported that pigs are "mixing vessels" or hosts that allow for the creation of influenza viruses, which have the potential to start pandemics.
Researchers who monitored influenza viruses found in pigs in China from 2011 to 2018, found that the newly emerged G4 EA H1N1 virus has been found in pig populations since 2016.
The virus is able to survive and reproduce in the cells that are found in human airways.
In ferrets, a type of mammal, the G4 EA H1N1 virus has been able to transmit from one ferret to another through aerosol transmission.
In addition, the team tested 338 swine workers, from slaughterhouses and swine industry, and found that 10.4 per cent of the workers were positive for G4 EA H1N1 virus.
The ability for the virus to adapt and infect humans is viewed as a cause for concern as it could lead to the emergence of pandemic viruses.
BBC reported that while the new virus might not be an immediate cause for concern, it needs to be closely monitored as it shows the ability to adapt and infect humans and people would have almost no immunity to the virus as it is new.
Top image via Jo-Anne McArthur/The Ghosts In Our Machine