With the number of coronavirus infections soaring a new type of swine flu has reportedly been identified in China. Carried by pigs, it can reportedly infect human beings too. While it is not an immediate threat, but it has the potential of triggering another outbreak, scientists at Chinese universities and China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention have stated.

According to a study published in the science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, the influenza virus is named G4. As per the reports, it is “genetically descended from the H1N1 strain that caused a pandemic in 2009.”

The new flu strain has similarities to the 2009 swine flu virus in China, but with some new changes. The G4 virus can spread easily from animals to humans but a person to person transmission has not been noted yet, a new study has found. However, the scientists are saying that it has the potential to mutate further so that it can trigger a pandemic.

What You Should Know

  • G4 virus is a new type of swine flu with the potential of triggering a pandemic.
  • G4 is genetically descended from the H1N1 strain that caused a pandemic in 2009.
  • Scientists claim that it possesses “all the essential hallmarks of being highly adapted to infect humans.”

Why you should be worried?

The virus has three lineages: one similar to strains found in European and Asian birds, the spread of H1N1 strain that caused the 2009 pandemic, and a North American H1N1 that has genes from avian, human and pig influenza viruses.

Scientists claim that it possesses “all the essential hallmarks of being highly adapted to infect humans.” The chances of a person catching the virus are very low at this stage unless you come in contact with an infected animal. But, it needs close monitoring. “It is of concern that human infection of G4 virus will further human adaptation and increase the risk of a human pandemic,” the researchers have said.

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For now, you don’t need to worry but the new discovery of the virus is especially concerning because humans have no immunity from its core lineage — an avian influenza virus. In short, humans gain immunity from exposure to seasonal flu but that does not provide protection against G4, numerous tests showed.

When the H1N1 pandemic broke in 2009, the World Health Organization declared precautions and symptoms including fever, chills and sore throat and the transmission of the infection is similar to seasonal influenza. India has recorded a few hundred infections some years and many thousands in other years.

G4 is highly infectious in pigs.  “…Farmed animals, with which humans have greater contact than with wildlife, may act as the source for important pandemic viruses,” James Wood, the head of the department of veterinary medicine at Cambridge University, said.

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