New flu virus emerges in China with ‘pandemic potential’

A new strain of flu has been recognised by scientists in China which has the potential to become a pandemic, they state.

The virus, called G4 EA H1N1, is transmitted by pigs but can contaminate humans, scientists announced in a new research paper.

Prof Kin-Chow Chang, of 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.”

They discovered proof of recent infection beginning in people who served in abattoirs and the swine industry in China. Current flu vaccines do not seem to protect against it, although they could be adapted to do so if needed.

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 a 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, the BBC reports.

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