Terrifying NEW flu virus with ‘pandemic potential’ found in pigs in China – and it can infect humans, scientists say

A STRAIN of the swine flu virus has become prevalent in pigs in China and has the potential to spread to humans and unleash another pandemic, researchers claim.

It is feared the new bug could mutate and spread from pig to people and then onto the human popular, triggering a global outbreak like Covid-19. 

Pigs on a Chinese farm are sprayed amid fears of swine flu (file pic)

Experts from the Chinese Academy of Sciences say pigs are a “key intermediate host” or “mixing vessel” for viruses which could spread from wild animals into humans.

The Chinese research team have been studying outbreaks of swine flu in pig farms across the country.

The latest strain, G4 EA H1N1, has “all the hallmarks” of being highly adapted to infect humans — and needs close monitoring.

The researchers said there was some evidence suggesting recent infection starting in people who worked in abattoirs and the swine industry in China.

The researchers paper concluded: “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.”

It’s believed 1918 Spanish flu’s H1N1 virus, which caused tens of millions of deaths was also transmitted from humans to pigs in American and then spread to a nearby army camp. 

Troops from here then shipped out to France to fight in World War One where the disease spread through the continent. 

The last pandemic flu the world encountered was the swine flu outbreak of 2009 that began in Mexico.

South Korea Porcine Flu – Apr 2009

But the 2009 Swine Flu outbreak was less deadly than initially feared, largely because many older people had some immunity.

This is probably because of its similarity to other flu viruses that had circulated years before.

Yet is feared people might not have the same immunity to G4 EA H1N1

The bug can grow and multiply in the cells that line the human airways.

Prof Kin-Chow Chang, from 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.”