Researchers in China have discovered a new type of swine flu that is capable of causing another pandemic.
The discovery was published in PNAS, a US science journal.
G4, the flu, is genetically descended from the H1N1 strain that caused a pandemic in 2009.
According to the authors of the study, which are scientists at Chinese universities and China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the G4 virus possesses all essential hallmarks of being highly adapted to infect human beings.
From 2011 to 2018, scientists took around 30,000 nasal swabs from pigs in slaughterhouses in 10 Chinese provinces in a veterinary hospital.
This allowed them to isolate 179 flu viruses.
All of the viruses that they discovered were new and were dominant amongst pigs.
The researchers carried out a number of experiments, which includes ones that were done on ferrets. These are used in flue studies as they experience similar symptoms that humans feel.
G4 was observed to be highly infections, replicating in human cells, and caused more serious symptoms in ferrets than other viruses do.
Not only that, tests showed that immunity in humans that were gained from exposure to seasonal flue will not provide protection from G4.
According to the study, more than 1 in 10 swine workers had already been infected.
4.4 of the general population has been exposed to the disease.
The virus had been passed from animals to humans, however, there is no evidence that suggests it can be passed from human to human.
Researchers that conducted in the study said:
It is of concern that human infection of G4 virus will further human adaptation and increase the risk of a human pandemic.
Authors of the study are now calling for urgent measures to monitor people that are constantly working with pigs.