At a time when the world is fighting the emerging coronavirus that causes Covid-19 disease, a new study says that a new influenza virus has been discovered in pigs in China, has become more human infection, and should be closely monitored for fear of becoming a potential "epidemic virus".
The paper, published in an American journal, showed that a team of Chinese researchers studied influenza viruses discovered in pigs between 2011 and 2018 and monitored the J4 virus, which is a strain of the H1N1 virus, and that "it has all the necessary distinctive features of a candidate epidemic virus."
The researchers said in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that high levels of the virus were detected in the blood of workers in pig farms, adding that close monitoring of human gatherings, especially those working in the pig breeding sector, should be carried out urgently.
The study highlights the dangers of viruses that break down the barrier between species and transmit to humans, especially in areas with high population density in China, where millions live close to farms, animal husbandry facilities, slaughterhouses, and wet markets (markets with live animals).
Carl Bergstrom, a biologist at Washington University, said the new virus could infect humans, but there was no imminent risk of a new pandemic.
"There is no evidence that J4 is transmitted between humans, although it has been heavily exposed for 5 years," he added - via Twitter after the study was published.