A new strain of flu that has the potential to become a pandemic has been identified in China by scientists. According to reports, the flu which emerged recently is carried pigs but can infect humans. The researchers are concerned that it could mutate further so that it can spread easily from person to person, and trigger a global outbreak. While it is not an immediate problem, possibilities are bound that it has “all the hallmarks” of being highly adapted to infect humans and require close monitoring. As it is new, people will have little or no immunity to the virus. In the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists are of the view that measures to control the virus in pigs, and close monitoring of swine industry workers should be swiftly implemented.
A bad strain of influenza is among the top disease threats that experts are watching for, even as the world attempts to deal with the current coronavirus pandemic.
The last pandemic flu that was encountered in the world was the swine flu outbreak of 2009 which was less deadly than it was initially feared, largely because older people had some immunity to it, or probably because of its similarity to other flu viruses that had circulated years before. That virus is called A/H1N1pdm09, is now covered by the annual flu vaccine to make sure people are protected.
The new flu strain that has been identified in China is similar to the 2009 swine flu, but with some new changes. So far it hasn’t posed a big threat, but prof Kin-Chow Chang who works at the Nottingham University in the UK and colleagues who have been studying it, say it is one to keep an eye on.