An evolved swine flu virus might attack us again, new study reveals

Is there a risk of a new swine flu pandemic?

INTERESTING ENGINEERING – The first case of swine flu (H1N1pdm09) in humans was reported 14 years ago in 2009.

According to CDC, the virus killed somewhere between 151,700 to 575,400 people across the globe, and even at present, it continues to spread seasonally as a regular flu virus in humans.

A new study suggests that pdm09 has passed from humans to pigs 370 times since its emergence. The repeated circulation of the virus in pigs from humans may have allowed it to evolve further. Therefore there is a risk that an evolved pdm09 might infect humans and cause another outbreak.

“Our analysis confirmed that pdm09 frequently causes the interspecies barrier between humans and swine,” the researchers note.

Swine flu (H1N1pdm09) is a type A virus (influenza A virus or IAV) that can spread to pigs, humans, birds, dogs, cats, and other mammals, including whales. The researchers suggest that the transmission of the virus in different animals can lead to changes in its genetic composition.

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Their study analyzed the risk of an evolved pdm09 infection in humans from pigs. They studied the data related to the transmission of the swine flu virus from 2009 to 2021 and noticed that during this time, about 370 times pdm09 made its way to pigs via humans.

Even during COVID-19, when the circulation of the pdm09 virus among humans was low, it was stable in swine. However, about 40 percent (150) of human-to-pig transmission events took place in the years before the COVID-19 pandemic, i.e., between 2018 and 2020 …


China, home to the world’s largest pig farms 

By Daisuke Wakabayashi and Claire Fu, Feb. 8, 2023

THE NEW YORK TIMES – The first sows arrived in late September at the hulking, 26-story high-rise towering above a rural village in central China. The female pigs were whisked away dozens at a time in industrial elevators to the higher floors where the hogs would reside from insemination to maturity.

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This is pig farming in China, where agricultural land is scarce, food production is lagging and pork supply is a strategic imperative.

Inside the edifice, which resembles the monolithic housing blocks seen across China and stands as tall as the London tower that houses Big Ben, the pigs are monitored on high-definition cameras by uniformed technicians in a NASA-like command center.

Each floor operates like a self-contained farm for the different stages of a young pig’s life: an area for pregnant pigs, a room for farrowing piglets, spots for nursing and space for fattening the hogs.

Feed is carried on a conveyor belt to the top floor, where it’s collected in giant tanks that deliver more than one million pounds of food a day to the floors below through high-tech feeding troughs that automatically dispense the meal to the hogs based on their stage of life, weight and health.

The building, on the outskirts of Ezhou, a city on the southern bank of the Yangtze River, is hailed as the world’s biggest free-standing pig farm, with a second, identical hog high-rise opening soon. The first farm started operating in October, and once both buildings reach full capacity this year, it is expected to raise 1.2 million pigs annually.

China has had a long love affair with pigs. For decades, many rural Chinese households raised backyard pigs, considered valuable livestock as a source of not only meat but also manure … READ MORE [subscription may be required] 


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