SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Scientists say a new strain of the H1N1 swine flu virus is spreading in workers on pig farms in China and should be “urgently” controlled to avoid another pandemic.
Scientists say G4 EA H1N1, which is the name of the new virus, could grow and multiply in human airways.
The New York Times reports the strain has been common on China’s pig farms since 2016.
So far, it has infected some people without causing disease, but health experts warn that could change.
Scientists wrote in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that it’s important to control the virus in pigs and monitor people who work with the animals.
“From the data presented, it appears that this is a swine influenza virus that is poised to emerge in humans,” said Edward Holmes of University of Sydney, according to Science Magazine. “Clearly this situation needs to be monitored very closely.”
When asked about the new strain at a U.S. Senate hearing on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said that it was not an “immediate threat” but “something we need to keep our eye on the just the way we did with in 2009 with the emergence of the swine flu.”
“While there is yet no report of human-to-human contact there is reason for concern,” said Dr. Mark Dybul with the Center for Global Health Practice and Impact at Georgetown University.
“If we have, at the same time, new waves of the coronavirus, the potential for a bad flu season or swine flu, it is a catastrophic future we could face,” he added.
The Associated Press and CNN Newssource contributed to this report.
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