Scientists Say New Pressure of Swine Flu Virus Is Spreading to People in China


HONG KONG — A brand new pressure of the H1N1 swine flu virus is spreading silently in staff on pig farms in China and ought to be “urgently” managed to keep away from one other pandemic, a crew of scientists says in a brand new examine.

H1N1 is extremely transmissible and spread around the world in 2009, killing about 285,000 individuals and morphing into seasonal flu.

The newer pressure, often called G4 EA H1N1, has been frequent on China’s pig farms since 2016 and replicates effectively in human airways, in response to the examine revealed on Monday. To this point, it has contaminated some individuals with out inflicting illness, however well being consultants concern that would change with out warning.

“G4 viruses have all of the important hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus,” the examine stated, including that controlling the unfold in pigs and intently monitoring human populations “ought to be urgently applied.”

The examine, published online within the journal Proceedings of the Nationwide Academy of Sciences, relies on the surveillance of pigs in 10 Chinese language provinces from 2011 to 2018. Within the final three years of the examine, researchers collected 338 blood samples from staff on 15 pig farms and 230 from individuals in close by households.

The examine discovered that 10.Four % of the employees and 4.Four % of the others examined constructive for G4 EA H1N1, and that staff between the ages of 18 and 35 examined constructive at a better fee: 20.5 %.

Predicting danger is just not a exact science, however shut consideration to the virus can be advisable, stated Ian H. Brown, the top of the virology division at Britain’s Animal and Plant Well being Company and considered one of two scientists who reviewed the paper earlier than it was revealed.

“It could be that with additional change within the virus it may grow to be extra aggressive in individuals a lot as SARS-CoV-2 has performed,” Dr. Brown stated in an e mail on Tuesday, referring to the brand new coronavirus.

The examine was despatched for evaluation in early December, weeks earlier than the coronavirus outbreak within the Chinese language metropolis of Wuhan started making world headlines.

Li-Min Huang, director of the Division of ​Pediatric Infectious Illness​s at Nationwide Taiwan College Hospital, stated {that a} essential subsequent step can be discovering out whether or not any of the contaminated staff on the pig farms had contracted the virus from people, in addition to whether or not any had unfold the virus to their households.

“It’s a vital examine, and the virus seems to be fairly harmful,” Dr. Huang stated. “We must be anxious about any illness with the potential to unfold human to human.”

Eurasian variations of H1N1 have been circulating in pigs in Europe and Asia for many years, the examine stated, however the incidence of G4 viruses in farmed Chinese language pigs with respiratory signs started rising sharply after 2014.

Latest proof “signifies that G4 EA H1N1 virus is a rising drawback in pig farms, and the widespread circulation of G4 viruses in pigs inevitably will increase their publicity to people,” it stated.

The examine was a collaboration amongst authorities companies in China, together with the Heart for Illness Management and Prevention, in addition to the World Well being Group, scientists from a number of universities in China and the College of Nottingham in Britain. Dr. Brown teaches on the College of Nottingham however was not concerned within the analysis.

The H1N1 virus that brought about a pandemic in 2009 had a comparatively low fatality fee, estimated at 0.02 %. Against this, the fatality fee of the 1918 flu pandemic was about 2.5 % of its victims. However that virus killed an estimated 50 million, maybe extra, as a result of it contaminated so many individuals and unfold at a time when medical care was cruder.

Figuring out the fatality fee of the brand new coronavirus is a key question for epidemiologists, however one they could not be capable to reply till the pandemic has ended.

Cao Li contributed reporting.


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