Chinese researchers discovered a new strain of swine flu that can infect humans and has the potential to cause a future pandemic

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Beijing, China.- Chinese scientists have warned in a recent study of the danger of a new strain of swine flu identified in pigs of the Asian country, which has the potential to spread to humans and provoke a new pandemic.

He study, led by scientist Liu Jinhua from the University of Agriculture of China and published by the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), it is based on more than 30,000 samples taken between 2011 and 2018 of the airways of pigs in 10 Chinese provinces.

Scientists found 179 different viruses from the swine flu after analyzing the samples.

Among them is one called G4, which is a « unique combination of three lineages », including the H1N1 strain that mutated from pigs to the humans and was responsible for the pandemic 2009 flu.

The researchers conducted experiments on ferrets, which show flu-like symptoms. humans -like fever or cough- when exposed to this type of virus, and concluded that the G4 strain is « highly infectious » and that it causes « severe symptoms ».

« It is especially worrisome because one of the origins of this virus can also be traced back to avian influenza, against which humans they have no immunity, « says one of the scientists.

However, the researchers show no evidence that the strain can be transmitted between humans: « The odds are low, » according to researcher Martha Nelson, cited by the scientific journal Science.

« But no one knew about the H1N1 strain, which jumped from pigs to people, until the first human cases appeared in 2009, » he adds.

For this reason, the researchers ask that preventive measures be taken, given that « it is increasingly common for pigs to become infected with viruses that have the potential to jump humans« 

Scientists Sun Honglei and George Gao, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, point out that « it would make sense to develop a vaccine against the G4 virus for both pigs as for humans« 

Meanwhile, Chinese scientists continue to develop a vaccine for African swine fever, the outbreak of which in 2018 has interrupted the supply of this type of meat and caused the preventive slaughter of hundreds of thousands of pigs in China.

According to a study of the Academy China of Agricultural Sciences collected this month in the magazine China Science Daily, the vaccine is already in the clinical trial phase in pigs, and the tests carried out to date have given good results.