A new flu virus that could potentially evolve into a pandemic has been identified in China.
The new virus that is carried by pigs can also infect humans, according to BBC. Researchers are worried that it could mutate and be quickly passed from one person to another; they say that the virus has “all the hallmarks” of possibly infecting humans. Researchers say that because it is a new virus, people are not immune to it like people were with the emergence of the swine flu in 2009.
BBC reports that the new virus, called G4 EA H1N1, is similar to the swine flu in terms of its symptoms, but a little different. Researchers say the virus can grow within the cells that line human airways. Their studies have shown that at least two people in China who work in the swine industry and abattoirs have been infected. Prof. Kin-Chow Chang says that there are no vaccines that fight against it or cure it.
“Right now, we are distracted with coronavirus and rightly so. But we must not lose sight of potentially dangerous new viruses,” said Chang to BBC, who works at Nottingham University in the UK. He went on to say that the virus is an issue that needs to be addressed right now, but the flu should be closely monitored. “We should not ignore it.”
For now, researchers and scientists are urging swine industry workers to begin implementing measures and safety precautions, according to scientists who wrote their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Prof. James Wood, Head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge, said the information about the new virus is “a salutary reminder” that we should always be cognizant of the possibility of new pathogens being created and that the farmed animals we are consistently around may be the root of pandemic viruses.