G4 Flu Virus | 01 Jul 2020

Why in News

Recently, scientists have identified a “newly emerged” strain of influenza virus that is infecting Chinese pigs and that has the potential of triggering a pandemic.

  • Named G4, scientists believe that it has descended from the H1N1 strain that was responsible for the 2009 swine flu pandemic.
  • A Pandemic happens if a new strain emerges that can easily spread from person to person.

Key Points

  • G4 Strain:
    • It was identified through surveillance of influenza viruses in pigs through a study carried out from 2011 to 2018 in ten provinces of China.
    • It can grow and multiply in the cells that line the human airways.
    • It has the capability of binding to human-type receptors (like, the SARS-CoV-2 virus).
    • Scientists found evidence of recent infection in people who worked in abattoirs and the swine industry in China.
      • However, it is not clear whether the new strain can transmit from one human to another.
    • Current flu vaccines do not appear to protect against it, although they could be adapted to do so if needed.
  • Flu Pandemic:
    • Pigs are intermediate hosts for the generation of pandemic influenza virus.
      • Intermediate host is an organism that harbours a parasitic which is being provided with nourishment and shelter by the organism.
    • The systemic surveillance of influenza viruses in pigs is a key measure for pre-warning the emergence of the next pandemic influenza.
      • There is an urgent need to control the prevailing G4 virus in pigs.
  • 2009 Swine Flu Pandemic:
    • The 2009 pandemic was caused by a strain of the swine flu called the H1N1 virus, which was transmitted from human to human.
      • Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses i.e. H1N1. It is called swine flu because it was known in the past to occur in people who had been in the vicinity of pigs.
      • While humans typically do not get infected by such a virus that circulates among pigs, when they do, it is called “variant influenza virus”.
    • The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak of type A H1N1 influenza virus a pandemic in 2009 when there were around 30,000 cases globally.
    • Transmission: The virus is transmitted by short-distance airborne transmission, particularly in crowded enclosed spaces. Hand contamination and direct contact are other possible sources of transmission.
    • Symptoms of swine flu include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue.
    • The treatment includes antiviral therapy with medicines like Oseltamivir (Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab).

Source: IE