A recently emerged strain of flu virus that is carried by pigs has been discovered in China.
Evidence suggests infection started in people who worked in slaughterhouses as well as those connected to the swine industry.
Scientists warn the G4 EA H1N1 virus possesses ‘all the hallmarks’ of being able to infect humans, giving it ‘pandemic potential’.
It has been reported that the virus bears similarities to the swine flu that broke out in Mexico back in 2009 – but has some differences which mean humans may have no immunity to it.
Speaking to the BBC, Kin-Chow Chang, a professor at the University of Nottingham, said: “Right now we are distracted with coronavirus and rightly so. But we must not lose sight of potentially dangerous new viruses.”
He added that although the virus hasn’t caused any problems yet, it should not be ignored.
‘The next deadly flu’
Last month, infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Greger warned that the ‘next coronavirus may come from pigs, not pangolins’.
“In 2016 another new coronavirus arose in china (SADS), a bat to pig virus that devastated industrial pig farms in the same region in China where SARS had broken out,” Greger said in a video with Future Coalition.
“So while pangolin populations are in decline, we produce more than a billion pigs a year, nearly half within China alone, raising the concern that the next pandemic may arise from domesticated rather than wild animals.”
Dr. Greger also spoke about the swine flu pandemic of 2009, which he says didn’t come from ‘backwater wet market in Asia, but was largely made in the USA on industrial pig farms’.
He added: “We may be one bush-meat meal away from the next HIV, one pangolin plate away from the next killer coronavirus, and one factory farm away from the next deadly flu.”