A new strain of swine flu has raised pandemic concerns – we spoke to an expert

A new strain of swine flu has raised pandemic concerns - we spoke to an expert | @Health24com

2020-07-03 10:02:00 PM

A new strain of swine flu has raised pandemic concerns - we spoke to an expert | Health24com

Researchers have identified a new strain of flu in pigs that could become transmittable to humans. However, local experts say there's no reason for panic.

The new virus has similar genes to the 2009 strain that spread throughout the world However, local experts assure us that these findings are no cause for panicAs the world is still grappling with the currentpandemic, a new flu strain might be waiting in the wings.

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The discovery of a   has caused some alarm, according to a new study. This strain has bird flu properties and a G4 genotype that could potentially infect workers in the pork industry, making it a prime candidate for a new pandemic.READ:

Some countries seeing fewer flu cases due to coronavirus lockdown measures, research showsCurrent vaccines and herd immunity from the last outbreak of swine flu, unfortunately, do not provide enough protection against this strain. “Such infectivity greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses,” write the researchers.  

Pigs are known as"mixing vessels" where viruses can"work" together to create new strains. Professor James Wood, Head of Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge from the Science Media Centreapplauded the researchers for their thorough seven-year investigation.

“The work comes as a salutary reminder that we are constantly at risk of new emergence of zoonotic pathogens, and that farmed animals, with which humans have greater contact than with wildlife, may act as the source for important pandemic viruses.” 

ALSO READ:No cause for alarmHowever, a local expert emphasises that it shouldn't be a major cause for alarm. Professor Maia Lesosky, head of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at the School of Public Health & Family Medicine at the University of Cape Town, notes that this strain isn't entirely new – as pointed out in the study – and just started becoming prevalent in pigs around 2016 in a specific region.

"They have also demonstrated that this strain has the characteristics that would enable it to infect humans and may have the characteristics that would allow human-to-human transmission. "They did not show – and this is important – that it would cause disease in humans, so this is not an immediate public health threat," says Lesosky. 

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She adds that monitoring of H1N1 strains remains important, and that the purpose of this study is to make public health professionals aware of this specific virus, while not being any cause for alarm to the public. China has the largest population of pigs in the world according to

Statista. It is home to half the global pig population, numbering around 310 million pigs, which makes the country more susceptible to virus  outbreaks.  Read more: News24 »

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