New strain of flu with pandemic potential emerges in China

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China has identified a new strain of flu that has the potential to become another pandemic even as the world is battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

Quoting researchers, BBC reported that the newly emerged virus is carried by pigs and can infect humans. The researchers have expressed concern that it could mutate further so that it can spread easily from person to person, and trigger a global outbreak.

While it is not an immediate problem, they say, it has "all the hallmarks" of being highly adapted to infect humans and needs close monitoring, the report said adding that as it’s new people could have little or no immunity to the virus.

The details about the new virus were shared by scientists in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that measures to control the virus in pigs. It is similar to 2009 swine flu, but with some new changes.

So far, it hasn't posed a big threat, but Prof Kin-Chow Chang and colleagues who have been studying it, say it is one to keep an eye on. The virus, which the researchers call G4 EA H1N1, can grow and multiply in the cells that line the human airways.

Prof Kin-Chow Chang, who works at Nottingham University in the UK, told the BBC: "Right now we are distracted with coronavirus and rightly so. But we must not lose sight of potentially dangerous new viruses."

Prof James Wood, head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge, said the work "comes as a salutary reminder" that we are constantly at risk of new emergence of pathogens, and that farmed animals, with which humans have greater contact than with wildlife, may act as the source for important pandemic viruses.

Image Credit: BBC

 

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