A new study has found that a strain of the H1N1 swine flu virus is spread in pig farm workers. If it is not controlled at this stage, experts doubt that it may become a pandemic.
This virus is carried by pigs and is easily transmitted to humans and has greater infectivity for them.
Swine Flu was the virus which spread from person to person, believed to be originated from pigs.
The study says that pigs are important hosts for the generation of pandemic influenza.
G4 EA H1N1 is the new strain of very well-known swine flu virus which outbroke in 2009. Then, the virus killed about 2,80,000 people across the world. The swine flu virus proved less deadly than predicted, possibly because old people had some immunity for that.
However, G4 EA has the genes of the swine flu virus as well as newly modified genes.
The virus spreads and multiplies in human airways and causes infection.
Moreover, low antigenic cross-reactivity of human influenza vaccine strains with G4 reassortant EA H1N1 virus indicates that preexisting population immunity does not provide protection against G4, the study says.
Due to this reason, already available vaccines for influenza viruses are not effective against this virus.
The study published in the journal PNAS is based on surveillance of more than 20,000 pigs in 10 Chinese provinces; with dense pig population from 2011 to 2018. From 2016, the virus is replicating at a relatively higher rate.
Furthermore, the samples collected during the last three years show that about 10.4 percent (35/338) workers; and 4.4 percent of others tested positive for the antibodies. The workers aged 18 to 35 years are tested positive at a higher rate, that is 20.4 percent (9/44).
Chances are there that the virus could mutate further so that it can easily be transmitted from one person to the other.
The research says that control of the virus in pigs and close monitoring of swine industry workers should be implemented immediately.
Prof Kin-Chow Chang, who works at Nottingham University in the UK, remarked that all the experts are busy focusing on the current COVID-19 pandemic. He added that they are right to do so, as it is the immediate requirement. However, the lose of sight of potentially dangerous virus may prove to be a threat.
Li-Min Huang, director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at National Taiwan University Hospital, said that the study is very important and must be noticed. He also said that the virus “looks quite dangerous”. According to him, if the virus gains the ability to transfer among humans, the threat will be beyond estimates.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, US top infectious disease expert, when asked about the virus, said that it was not an “immediate threat”. But “something we need to keep our eye on the just the way we did with in 2009 with the emergence of the swine flu.”