SHANGHAI - A new flu virus found in pigs in China has become more infectious to humans and needs to be closely watched in case it becomes a potential "pandemic virus," according to one study, although experts said it there is no imminent threat.
A team of Chinese researchers examined the influenza viruses found in pigs between 2011 and 2018 and found a "G4" strain of H1N1 that has "all the essential characteristics of a possible pandemic virus," according to the document, published by the US magazine. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Pig farm workers also showed elevated levels of the virus in their blood, the study authors said, adding that "close monitoring should be urgently implemented in human populations, especially in workers in the pig industry."
The study highlights the risks of viruses crossing the species' barrier to humans, especially in China's densely populated regions, where millions of people live in close proximity to farms, breeding facilities, slaughterhouses and wet markets.