Scientists have identified a new strain of influenza that has the potential to become a pandemic in China.
According to scientists, the flu is carried by pigs but can infect humans. The researchers are concerned that the new flu could mutate further and spread quickly from person to person, and trigger a global epidemic.
The latest research reveals that measures to control the virus in pigs, and the close monitoring of swine industry workers, should be quickly implemented.
The threat of a new human Pandemic
The new strain of influenza is among the top virus threats that experts are looking for, even as the world attempts to end the current COVID-19 outbreak.
In 2009, the world faced the last flu pandemic – the swine flu outbreak that started in Mexico and was less deadly than feared initially. Many older people had some resistance to it, apparently because of its similarity to other flu infections that had circulated years before.
The flu that has been identified in China is similar to the 2009 swine flu, but with some new changes. So far, it has not posed a significant threat.
The new disease, which the researchers call G4 EA H1N1, can grow and increase in human cells. They found evidence of the recent virus starting in people who worked in abattoirs and the swine industry in China.
Available flu vaccines do not appear to protect against it, although they could be modified to do so if needed.
Prof Kin-Chow Chang, who works at Nottingham University in the UK, told the BBC, “Currently we are distracted with COVID-19 and rightly so. However, we must not lose sight of potentially dangerous new viruses.”
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