Scientists in China have reported the discovery of a new strain of influenza in pigs in Chinese slaughterhouses – sparking genuine concerns of another pandemic.
THE new strain is a combination of the bird flu and the virus that caused the 2009 swine flu pandemic – which gives it ‘pandemic potential’ in humans, the researchers wrote. This flu hasn’t been seen in humans yet, but the researchers believe such a jump is possible, it is well-known that pigs can be reservoirs for new flu strains.
Pig farm workers also showed elevated levels of the virus in their blood, the authors said, adding that “close monitoring in human populations, especially the workers in the swine industry, should be urgently implemented.”
The study highlights the risks of viruses crossing the species barrier into humans, especially in densely populated regions in China, where millions live in close proximity to farms, breeding facilities, slaughterhouses, and wet markets.
The new flu virus found in Chinese pigs has become more infectious to humans and needs to be watched closely in case it becomes a potential “pandemic virus,” a study said.
A team of Chinese researchers looked at influenza viruses found in pigs from 2011 to 2018 and found a ‘G4’ strain of H1N1 that has “all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus,” according to the paper, published by the US journal, The National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The coronavirus pandemic is actually speeding up – The WHO
World Health OrganiSation (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated on Monday that although some countries have made progress in fighting COVID-19, globally, “the pandemic is actually speeding up.” He said that most people remain susceptible, and that “the hard reality” is that the pandemic is “not even close to being over.”