An emerging strain of flu in China is attracting scientists’ attention just as the world is struggling with the worst pandemic since the Spanish flu of 1918.
Chinese researchers have identified a new flu strain that is infecting pigs in China and that has the characteristics of the so-called swine flu, or H1N1, which led to the 2009 pandemic.
Earlier this week, researchers published a report in the scientific journal Peer Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, or PNAS, which identifies an influenza strain – G4 EA H1N1 – which has traits related to H1
Scientists, who conducted research on Chinese pig populations in various provinces from 2011 to 2018, described the new flu as having all the attributes necessary for a pandemic.
“G4 viruses have all the essential characteristics of a pandemic virus candidate,” reads the report. “The control of the prevalent G4 EA H1N1 viruses in pigs and close monitoring in human populations, particularly workers in the pig industry, should be implemented urgently,” the researchers wrote.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define swine flu as a respiratory disease of swine caused by type A influenza viruses that regularly cause outbreaks of swine flu.
There is talk of an emerging disease while the world has to do with SAR-COV2, the new coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19 respiratory disease that was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December.
There are over 10 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide and at least 507,014 people have died, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. The United States continues to lead the world, with a 2.6 million case count and 126,360 death toll. The data has been revised since this morning.
The largest infectious disease expert in the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said on Tuesday that “there is a possibility that there may be another outbreak of swine flu as in 2009,” according to a Senate committee on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s something that’s still under consideration,” said the public health expert. Fauci said that influenza is not “an immediate threat in which infections occur, but it is something we need to keep an eye on, just like we did in 2009 with the emergence of swine flu.”