New flu strain with pandemic possibility identified in China

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As the world works to fight COVID-19, another alarming discovery has been made. A new strain of Swine Flu has been identified in China and scientists fear it has the potential to become a pandemic in humans as well. The Director of Vanderbilt’s Division of Infectious Disease, Dr. David Aronoff explained it’s known to scientists as G4 EA H1N1.

“What this study is really suggesting,” said Dr. Aronoff, “Is that in the pig population, at least in a sample of a pig population in China, they identified a new lineage of influenza virus that has genetic elements that draw from, for example, the 2009 H1N1 flu that did cause a global pandemic.”

Published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the study found a percentage of swine farmers had antibodies to the virus indicating the strain can move from pigs to people.

“We don’t know that this can be transmitted from person to person or even cause symptoms in people. But, what it really emphasizes is that it’s really important for us to keep our radar up,” said Aronoff.

He also explained, finding new influenza viruses in animal populations is pretty common.
Yet nothing should be overlooking during the time of COVID-19.

“What the world does not need right now is a superimposed pandemic number 2 caused by another virus.”

Dr. Aronoff reiterated the world’s need to monitor and share findings.

“It’s important to continue to invest in looking for these viruses, sharing what we know about them, helping scientists develop vaccines for them and doing good in terms of communication.”

Scientists also indicate, while the strain is similar to the 2009 version of the flu, it’s different enough that the current vaccine probably won’t be effective.

COVID-19 in Tennessee

(This reflects what the TDH is reporting each day at 2 p.m. CST )

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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