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New swine flu with 'pandemic potential' discovered in China once more


That's cheery news

Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images

Researchers in China have discovered a brand-new type of swine flu that is able to infect humans.

What are the details?

A new study, released Monday and published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the new mutation may be capable of causing a new pandemic. Researchers, however, say that the virus does not pose an immediate risk to global health.

The virus, referred to as the G4 virus, is a strain of H1N1 swine flu, and exhibits "all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus."

Researchers gained the information after studying pigs from 2011 to 2018. Scientists obtained nasal swab samples from more than 30,000 slaughterhouse pigs and veterinary teaching hospitals across 10 China provinces.

The samples rendered at least 179 different swine flu viruses.

Researchers said that seasonal influenza vaccines will not provide patients with immunity against the new strain.

Agence France-Presse reported Tuesday:

According to blood tests which showed up antibodies created by exposure to the virus, 10.4 percent of swine workers had already been infected.

The tests showed that as many as 4.4 percent of the general population also appeared to have been exposed.

The virus has therefore already passed from animals to humans but there is no evidence yet that it can be passed from human to human — the scientists' main worry.

What are people saying about this?

CNN cites remarks from Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University's school of public health.

"[T]he bottom line is that our understanding of what is a potential pandemic influenza strain is limited," she wrote in a tweet. "Sure, this virus meets a lot of the basic criteria but it's not for sure going to cause a hypothetical 2020 flu pandemic, or even be a dominant strain in humans."

Carl Bergstrom, a biology professor at the University of Washington, tweeted, "There's no evidence that G4 is circulating in humans, despite five years of extensive exposure. That's the key context to keep in mind."

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