Ongoing research in China have high indications that, there is a new influenza strain in swines that could be the next global potential pandemic.
According to research, the new influenza strain is already infecting swine workers in China
Over the years, Pigs have been identified as intermediate hosts for viruses.
Taking this factor into consideration, researchers in China have carried out a surveilled on pigs from 2011 to 2018 to study influenza viruses and be able to warn the public about any upcoming pandemic sources.
According BBC reports, the newly identify strain of influenza called G4 EA H1N1, could be one of those, said researchers.
“Similar to [the virus that caused swine flu], G4 viruses have all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus,” the research states.
“Right now we are distracted with coronavirus and rightly so. But we must not lose sight of potentially dangerous new viruses,” Kin-Chow Chang, one of the authors of the research and a professor at Nottingham University, told the BBC.
According to the research, The G4 viruses is able to bind to human receptors, and could replicate themselves in the cells in human airways. There was also evidence that the virus could be transmitted through aerosols.
The influenza A (H1N1) strain, frequently referred to as swine flu, was the source of the first influenza pandemic of the 21st century, in 2009. According to the World Health Organization, most cases were mild, but “globally it is estimated that the 2009 pandemic caused between a hundred thousand to half a million death globally.
A current case study have been put together for over 340 swine workers, who came in contact with pigs as part of their daily work, showed that 10 per cent of the work force have tested positive for the new influenza strain, G4 EA H1N1. Those between the ages of 18 to 35 years old had a 20 per cent positive rate.
“Such infectivity greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses,” the research said.
Researchers recommend that controlling G4 EA H1N1 in pigs and monitoring it in humans, “especially the workers in swine industry,” should be implemented ASAP to curb the virus from becoming another global pandemic.
While this new virus may not be a huge threat to humans yet, Chang told the BBC that “we should not ignore it.”