Another Virus with the Potential to Cause a Pandemic Was Discovered In None Other Than China

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Posted: Jun 29, 2020 8:05 PM
Another Virus with the Potential to Cause a Pandemic Was Discovered In None Other Than China

Source: Chinatopix via AP

As the world continues to deal with the Wuhan coronavirus, researchers are warning about another strain of the flu that has the potential to turn into a pandemic. Pigs are the source of the strain but have the potential to be transmitted to humans, the BBC reported. Because of how new the strain is, the chances of humans having immunity to it is little to none.

This new strain of the flu, called G4 EA H1N1, is said to be similar to the swine flu, which came from China in 2009. The humans that are being infected with the new strain, as of now, work in China's pig industry.

According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 10.4 percent of those working in the swine industry are positive for the new strain. Those between the ages of 18 and 35 are most at risk of being infected.

The evidence was based on almost 30,000 samples that were collected from pigs in China between 2011 and 2018. The samples were collected from slaughterhouses in 10 Chinese providences. The results showed 179 types of swine flu. The majority of the infections were the G4 EA H1N1 strain, The Hill reported.

Researchers at PNAS warned about the potential for swine to cause future pandemics. 

"Pigs are considered as important hosts or “mixing vessels” for the generation of pandemic influenza viruses. Systematic surveillance of influenza viruses in pigs is essential for early warning and preparedness for the next potential pandemic," researchers wrote.

While the swine flu wasn't able to transmit from human-to-human, researchers worry about the ability of the virus to mutate, meaning it could spread from human-to-human. 

Although the current flu vaccination doesn't protect against G4 EA H1N1, Nottingham University Professor Kin-Chow Chang said that could change.

"Right now we are distracted with coronavirus and rightly so. But we must not lose sight of potentially dangerous new viruses," he told the BBC. 

Although this virus isn't causing an immediate impact, Kin-Chow said its threat shouldn't be ignored.