Researchers have discovered a strain of swine flu in China that has genetic characteristics similar to another well-known virus, H1N1, and may even be genetically descended from the same strain. H1N1 was the cause of a pandemic in 2009.
French publication 20 Minutes explains that this virus has ‘all the characteristics capable of causing a future pandemic,’ according to the results of a study which appeared on June 29th in the PNAS journal.
What did the study find?
The authors of this study explained that this virus could possess ‘all the essential traits showing a high adaptability to infect humans.’
The study is based on the results from 30,000 nasal swabs taken from pigs in slaughterhouses between 2011 and 2018. These tests detected 179 cases of swine influenza.
Of these, G4 viruses were identified as being particularly infectious. By testing these viruses in ferrets, which react similarly to humans, the researchers concluded that this type of virus replicates more easily in human cells. The rapid spread of the virus and its symptoms are therefore being pointed out, as are its symptoms, which are more severe than those observed with other virus strains.
Is it transmissible to humans?
Some of the people who work daily with the pigs under study were infected with this G4 virus strain. The figures were quite high: 10.4% of the blood tests performed on these people showed that some antibodies to the virus were present in their bodies, meaning the virus could be transmissible to humans.
Should we be worried about G4?
Until it has been proven that the virus can be transmitted from one human to another, there is not necessarily a reason to worry. Only if the G4 viruses are proven to be transmissible from human to human could we run the risk of another pandemic.
To prevent this from happening, the researchers explained that preventive measures to monitor personnel working in contact with these pigs must now be taken.
Watch the video above for more information.