The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way many people view seasonal diseases and viral infections. As the world is currently battling the fatal disease, most are taking extra precautions very seriously so as not to catch COVID-19. And people turn to regular news to learn more about the virus and other potential public health threats.
Just recently, a new strain of swine flu made a lot of buzz online since some reports disclosed how it could cause another pandemic and how it could spread among humans. The reports all point to a new study that has determined a virus spreading in some pigs in China. The virus has been compared to the 2009 H1N1 swine flu.
However, Science News has learned from public health officials that the new strain of the swine flu is not at all an imminent threat. Though it does share some characteristics with the 2009 H1N1 virus, it does not pose an immediate threat to people.
Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, has already addressed the growing concern over the new virus as well. He also relayed a similar message.
“It’s not an immediate threat where you’re seeing infections. But it’s something we need to keep our eye on, just the way we did in 2009 with the emergence of the swine flu,” Fauci said.
The newly identified pig virus is called G4 EA H1N1 or just G4 for short. In the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers who observed the virus indicated that it can be transmitted to ferrets. They then hinted that it could potentially be transmitted to humans, as well.
G4 has been infecting pigs in certain parts of China since 2013, so this means it is not entirely new. It became more prevalent in 2016 after the researchers conducted further study on the pigs located in the northern and central China. They noticed that the virus has been “very good” in infecting other pigs but it has not caused a very severe disease among the infected animals.
The researchers also observed 338 people who worked with pigs in the areas and they found that 10 percent had antibodies that recognize the virus. Nevertheless, it wasn’t clear if the people who got infected got sick.
So far, there is no evidence that G4 can cause human-to-human transmission. There is also no evidence of the virus being present in other places. However, experts will continue to monitor the virus from now on.