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Barbara C. Arroyo

Chinese researchers have discovered a new type of swine flu that can infect humans, and could cause pestilence in the future, according to a study released Monday.

Researchers called the G4 virus, which is genetically derived from the H1N1 swine flu, which caused the global pandemic in 2009.

Now G4 According to a study published in the scientific journal, “The candidate shows all the essential features of the pandemic virus” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The new study came as the world caught up with the Kovid-19 pandemic, which now infects more than 10.3 million people worldwide and causes over 505,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics.

How was it discovered? Researchers identified G4 in a pig surveillance program from 2011 to 2018, in which they collected more than 30,000 nasal swab samples from pigs in slaughterhouses and veterinary teaching hospitals in 10 Chinese provinces.

From these samples, researchers identified 179 swine influenza viruses – but not all of them. Some have shown up only one year out of seven of the program, or at the end have turned down the risk.

But the G4 virus continues to show up in pigs year after year – and 2016 has seen a significant increase in swine populations as well.

Is it infecting people? Further tests have shown that G4 infects humans by binding to our cells and receptors, and that this is quickly reflected inside our airway cells. Although G4 contains H1N1 genes, people who receive seasonal flu vaccines are not immune.

It looks like the G4 has already infected people in China. In Hebei and Shandong provinces, two places with high pig numbers, swine workers with more than 10% of pig farms and 4.4% of the general population tested positive in a survey from 2016 to 2018.

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About the author

Barbara C. Arroyo

Barbara C. Arroyo

I'm a writer, editor and newsroom leader working at the intersection of tech and media, editorial and product, journalism and management. I am driven to transform our industry for the future, develop and mentor our people, build compassionate and innovative organizational cultures, and put readers and communities at the center of it all. I also have a love of storytelling and creative work, and refuse to pick one or the other.

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