Fauci Says Swine Flu From China Could Cause Another Pandemic

Swine flu originates in pigs farmed for food

This new strain is believed to be a combination of three flu strains: A/H1N1, found in European and Asian birds, and a North American H1N1 that has genes from bird, human, and pig influenza viruses. "But we must not lose sight of potentially unsafe new viruses", Nottingham University Professor Kin-Chow Chang told The BBC.

Tests revealed that G4 has already infected humans in China's Hebei and Shandong provinces, which have large swine populations.

This was after 10.4% of swine workers had already been infected, despite blood tests showing antibodies created by exposure to the flu virus.

And it's called G4 - a genetic descendent of the H1N1 virus that swept the world back in 2009.

As the nation holds the largest amount of pigs, it's imperative that "systematic surveillance of influenza viruses in pigs is essential for early warning and preparedness for the next potential pandemic", as per the researchers' study.

Fauci told the lawmakers that there is a "possibility that you might have another swine flu-type outbreak as we had in 2009".

The virus has become more infectious to humans and needs to be watched closely in case it becomes a potential "pandemic virus", according to the authors, who include scientists at Chinese universities and China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist at Harvard University in the United States, who is unrelated to the study, tweeted that the virus is just in pigs for now.

They fear that human infection of G4 virus will further human adaptation and increase the risk of a human pandemic. "Eurasian avian-like swine influenza virus are known to be circulating in the swine population in Asia and to be able to infect humans sporadically", a spokesperson said.

"We can not let our guard down on influenza and need to be vigilant and continue surveillance even in the coronavirus pandemic", said Christian Lindmeier, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization.

One expert said the public shouldn't "freak out". Many older people had some immunity to it because it was similar to older strains.

"There is no evidence that G4 poses an immediate threat to humans but it is important to continue close monitoring and surveillance".

There have been cases of swine workers contracting G4 from pigs, but there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission yet. "Influenza can surprise us", Nelson says.

She added that given the relatively small sample size, it's hard to know whether the spread is a growing problem. "We will take all necessary measures to prevent the spread and outbreak of any virus", chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.

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