Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries Sector – Pashudhan Sanjivani, E- Pashudhan Haat, etc

G4 Flu virus and it’s pandemic potential

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : G4 Flu

Mains level : Rise in zoonotic diseases and their possible causes

In new research, scientists from China – which has the largest population of pigs in the world – have identified a “recently emerged” strain of influenza virus that is infecting Chinese pigs and that has the potential of triggering a pandemic.

Practice question for mains:

Q.What are zoonotic diseases? Why China has emerged as the epicentre of global outbreaks of zoonotic disease?

G4 Flu

  • Named G4, the swine flu strain has genes similar to those in the virus that caused the 2009 flu pandemic.
  • The scientists identified the virus through surveillance of influenza viruses in pigs that they carried out from 2011 to 2018 in ten provinces of China.
  • They also found that the G4 strain has the capability of binding to human-type receptors (like, the SARS-CoV-2 virus binds to ACE2 receptors in humans).
  • The virus was able to copy itself in human airway epithelial cells, and it showed effective infectivity and aerosol transmission.

Swine industry is the new hotspot for zoonoses

  • The scientists report that the new strain (G4) has descended from the H1N1 strain that was responsible for the 2009 flu pandemic.
  • Pigs are intermediate hosts for the generation of pandemic influenza virus.
  • Thus, systematic surveillance of influenza viruses in pigs is a key measure for pre-warning the emergence of the next pandemic influenza.

Back2Basics: 2009 swine flu pandemic

  • The WHO declared the outbreak of type A H1N1 influenza virus a pandemic in 2009 when there were around 30,000 cases globally.
  • It was caused by a strain of the swine flu called the H1N1 virus, which was transmitted from human to human.
  • Influenza viruses that commonly circulate in swine are called “swine influenza viruses” or “swine flu viruses”.
  • Like human influenza viruses, there are different subtypes and strains of swine influenza viruses. Essentially, swine flu is a virus that pigs can get infected by.
  • The symptoms of swine flu include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue.
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