A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that a strain of swine flu found in pigs in China could be contracted by humans and cause another pandemic.

The new strain, called G4 EA H1N1, became prevalent in 2016.Researchers believe it to be a blend of a similar flu found in European/Asian birds, North American H1N1, and the swine flu strain of the 2009 pandemic.

There have been at least two recorded cases of G4 in humans, but the good news is that this current virus cannot be transmitted from person to person. 

However, researchers say that G4’s H1N1 genes may actually adapt and cause the virus to allow human to human transmission eventually.


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Fearing the rise of another pandemic, researchers called for monitoring of farms and workers in order to prevent further transmission.

“All of this evidence indicates that G4 EA H1N1 virus is a growing problem in pig farms, and the widespread circulation of G4 viruses in pigs inevitably increases their exposure to humans,” write the study’s authors. 

Other experts who read the study said that there is a low risk of a G4 pandemic.

“The likelihood that this particular variant is going to cause a pandemic is low,” said Martha Nelson, an evolutionary biologist at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center.

“You’re really not getting a good snapshot of what is dominant in pigs in China,” Nelson added. She noted that more sampling is necessary.

[Via]