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Scientists warn that China’s new influenza virus has pandemic potential



On August 2, 2005, a pig was pen-penned on a farm on the outskirts of Chengdu, Sichuan Province, southwest China.

Peter Parks | AFP | Getty Images

Scientists have discovered a new type of influenza carried by pigs in China, and they say it may become a pandemic.

The new strain is derived from the type of influenza (called “swine flu”

😉 that appeared in 2009, resulting in the world’s first influenza pandemic in 40 years.

The scientists published their peer-reviewed findings in the American Science Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday. They said this new strain of influenza virus is called “G4 EA H1N1” and is a variant of swine flu, which includes the “G4” genotype that has dominated the swine herd since 2016.

Like swine flu, the new strain has been identified as having “all the basic characteristics of a candidate pandemic virus”.

Scientists studied the influenza virus in herds from 2011 to 2018. They pointed out that about 10% of the pig industry workers they tested in China had been exposed to the virus, which they called “concern” . Among young workers aged 18-35, this rate has increased, “indicating that the major G4 EA H1N1 virus has increased human infectivity.”

Scientists working in several universities in China and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention pointed out: “This infectivity has greatly increased the chances of humans adapting to the virus, and caused people to worry about the possibility of pandemic viruses.”

They recommend close monitoring of the herd and anyone who works with it.

They wrote: “It is urgent to implement measures to control the G4 EA H1N1 virus that is endemic in pigs and to closely monitor the population, especially the pig industry workers.”

“Pigs are intermediate hosts for the production of pandemic influenza viruses. Therefore, systematic monitoring of influenza viruses in pigs is a key measure for early warning of the emergence of a pandemic influenza.”

Although “swine flu” originally appeared in Mexico in 2009, it is now regarded as one of various seasonal influenza viruses and has been included in the annual flu vaccine. “.

They are keen to emphasize that the virus is not the current problem.

One of the scientists involved in this research, Professor Zhang Jianzhou, who worked at the University of Nottingham in the UK, told the BBC, “Although this new virus is not a direct problem, we should not ignore it.”

“At the moment, we are distracting from coronaviruses, which is correct. However, we must not ignore potentially dangerous new viruses.”

According to the BBC report, the current flu vaccine does not seem to be preventable, although it may be adjusted when needed. To conduct research, scientists conducted influenza surveillance on pigs in 10 provinces in China from January 2011 to April 2018, collecting nearly 30,000 nasal swabs collected from pigs slaughtered in slaughterhouses, as well as pig farms. More than 1,000 nasal swabs or lung tissue collected in. Signs of respiratory disease.


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