Flu virus with 'pandemic potential' found in China

Local animal husbandry workers inject a pig to collect blood sample at a pig farm in Zhangye Gansu province China

"Will this one do it?"

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that they will read a new study carefully while referring to this elusive new flu.

The flu strain was was identified by researchers in China, according to a study in the United States science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The influenza virus, dubbed G4 EA H1N1, is genetically descended from A/H1N1, which caused the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

China has identified a new strain of viral flu that can turn into a pandemic.

"From the data presented, it appears that this is a swine influenza virus that is poised to emerge in humans", Edward Holmes, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Sydney who studies pathogens, told Science magazine.

The study said that there is no imminent threat, but said that health authorities need to be watchful.

"Systematic surveillance of influenza viruses in pigs is essential for early warning and preparedness for the next potential pandemic". "Like human influenza viruses, there are different sub-types and strains of swine influenza viruses".

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"Such infectivity greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses".

One in 10 pig farm workers tested also showed elevated levels of the virus in their blood, particularly those aged 18 to 35 years old.

The scientists who found the virus have shown concerns that this virus can mutate further.

Researchers said it is carried by pigs, but can infect humans. "However, the news that the next viral pandemic will be caused by a new virus found in pigs might be a little premature". "And there's a risk that we neglect influenza and other threats at this time" of COVID-19.

But the G4 virus kept showing up in pigs, year after year - and even showed sharp increases in the swine population after 2016.

However, there has not yet been evidence it can be transmitted from one person to another - as of yet though it can be infected from animals to humans. The researchers found antibodies to the G4 strain in 4.4% of 230 people studied in a household survey-and the rate more than doubled in swine workers.

That virus, called A/H1N1pdm09, is now covered by the annual flu vaccine to make sure people are protected. Nelson says USA farms commonly do, but the vaccine has little effect because it's often outdated and doesn't match circulating strains.

While the new virus is not an immediate problem, he added: "We should not ignore it".

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