Chinese scientists have identified a new strain of flu with the potential to become a pandemic. The virus is found in pigs but can infect humans too.
Scientists fear that the virus can transform into a contagious disease and trigger a global outbreak. Since the virus is new, people may have little to no immunity to it.
The research published in the science journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, calls for immediate efforts to control the virus in pigs, and the close monitoring of swine industry workers.
The researchers say that it is not an immediate problem, but has ‘all the hallmarks of being highly adapted,’ and need close monitoring.
At a time when the world is fighting against the coronavirus pandemic, another strain of flu with the potential to become the next pandemic has caught experts’ attention.
The last time the modern world saw a pandemic flu was in 2009 when the swine flu outbreak created havoc. It proved to be less deadly than initially feared, mainly because older people had immunity to it due to its similarity with other flu viruses.
The new virus discovered is very similar to the swine flu of 2009, but with some mutations.
Professor Kin-Chow Chang and colleagues are studying the new type of flu. They believe that the virus is not a threat at this time, but must be taken into account.
The virus, called G4 EA H1N1, can grow and multiply in the cells that line the human airways.
The researchers have found evidence of recent infection in people working in slaughterhouses and the swine industry in China.
Experts say that the current swine flu vaccine does not seem to be working against it, but could be adapted to do so if needed.