A new strain of swine flu has raised pandemic concerns – we spoke to an expert

Gabi Zietsman | Health24 03 Jul 2020, 02:45


New Virus With Pandemic Potential Discovered in China

According to CNN, Chinese researchers say the G4 virus descends from 2009’s H1N1 swine flu.

  • Researchers have identified a new strain of flu in pigs in China, which could potentially lead to another pandemic
  • The new virus has similar genes to the 2009 strain that spread throughout the world 
  • However, local experts assure us that these findings are no cause for panic

As the world is still grappling with the current coronavirus pandemic, a new flu strain might be waiting in the wings.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.392.0_en.html#goog_951704332Play Video11s

COVID-19 is 10 times more deadly than swine flu: WHO

The novel coronavirus is 10 times more deadly than swine flu, also called H1N1, which caused a global pandemic in 2009, the World Health Organization says, calling for control measures to be lifted “slowly”.

The discovery of a  new type of flu strain in pigs in China has caused some alarm, according to a new study. This strain has bird flu properties and a G4 genotype that could potentially infect workers in the pork industry, making it a prime candidate for a new pandemic.

READ: Some countries seeing fewer flu cases due to coronavirus lockdown measures, research shows

Current vaccines and herd immunity from the last outbreak of swine flu, unfortunately, do not provide enough protection against this strain. 

“Such infectivity greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses,” write the researchers.  

Pigs are known as “mixing vessels” where viruses can “work” together to create new strains. 

Professor James Wood, Head of Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge from the Science Media Centre applauded the researchers for their thorough seven-year investigation.

“The work comes as a salutary reminder that we are constantly at risk of new emergence of zoonotic pathogens, and that farmed animals, with which humans have greater contact than with wildlife, may act as the source for important pandemic viruses.” 

ALSO READ: A checklist to determine if you can exercise after the flu

No cause for alarm

However, a local expert emphasises that it shouldn’t be a major cause for alarm. 

Professor Maia Lesosky, head of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at the School of Public Health & Family Medicine at the University of Cape Town, notes that this strain isn’t entirely new – as pointed out in the study – and just started becoming prevalent in pigs around 2016 in a specific region.

“They have also demonstrated that this strain has the characteristics that would enable it to infect humans and may have the characteristics that would allow human-to-human transmission. 

“They did not show – and this is important – that it would cause disease in humans, so this is not an immediate public health threat,” says Lesosky. 

She adds that monitoring of H1N1 strains remains important, and that the purpose of this study is to make public health professionals aware of this specific virus, while not being any cause for alarm to the public. 

China has the largest population of pigs in the world according to Statista. It is home to half the global pig population, numbering around 310 million pigs, which makes the country more susceptible to virus  outbreaks. 

In contrast, South Africa only slaughters about three million pigs a year, amounting to 0.2% of total world pork production, according to the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation. 

READ: We’ve been here before: lessons from the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic

Image credit: Pixabay

Local man killed in hunting accident


By Kaitlyn Rigdon El Dorado.

On Sunday, El Dorado police responded to an area by Forest Lane and Mount Holly Road regarding an accidental shooting involving three people. Officers were escorted down a trail in the wooded area to find Thomas Browning, 48, lying on the ground.

Emergency medical services were called and Browning was pronounced dead at the scene.

Browning and two other people, including his son, were reportedly hog hunting in the area. All evidence shows it to be an accident. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission was notified because it was a hunting accident, said Police Chief Billy White.

“It’s not against the law to hunt in city limits, though we do discourage it,” White said.

According to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission 2017-2018 Hunting Guidebook, “it is not legal to point, aim or shoot a firearm or archery equipment across, from or within 100 ft. of the centerline of any city, county, state or federally maintained road.”

Also according to the guidebook, feral hogs are not considered wildlife or a game species, but rather a public nuisance.

On private land, feral hogs may be killed or trapped year-round with any method, by a landowner or anyone with the landowner’s permission. On public land, feral hogs may be killed by hunters who are hunting bear, deer or elk during a firearm season with weapons legal for those seasons.

“It is unlawful for persons to fail to immediately report a hunting or trapping related incident involving personal injury above basic first-aid treatment to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission so an investigation may be conducted,” the guidebook states.

If an incident does occur, it should be reported as soon as possible. To report hunting related incidents, call 800-482-9262.

Injured hunter claims hog hunting helicopters flying through dangerous loophole

The “Pork Choppin’” law allows hunters to shoot feral hogs from helicopters.


SAN ANTONIO – They called it the “pork choppin’” law when it passed a few years ago. It allowed hunters to legally shoot feral hogs from helicopters. Since then some hunters have paid thousands of dollars to go on the excursions.

Now a lawsuit filed by a Medina County man claims some operators are flying through a dangerous loophole.

Thomas Swan runs an organic farm in Devine. For him going on a helicopter hog hunt wasn’t just about the thrill of the experience.

“Being a farmer I get to see the true destruction of wild pigs. What a lot of people don’t understand is they actually are a problem,” Swan said.

Last September Swan and a friend were on a hog hunt near Burnet when the helicopter they had hired experienced engine failure. The pilot made a hard crash landing right in the lanes of Highway 281.

“The pilot said ‘hang on’ a half a second before we hit the ground,” Swan said.

Swan managed to escape injury for eight years as a Marine Sgt. in Afghanistan. He was sitting with his legs hanging out the door of the helicopter with his feet resting on the skids. The impact sent him spilling out onto the asphalt.

Swan says he suffered a badly broken ankle, broken tailbone and injured lower back.

“It’s probably the most painful thing I’ve experienced,” Swan said.

The crash is still being investigated by the NTSB, but Swan’s attorney, Ladd Sanger, who is a pilot himself, believes the chopper ran out of fuel. NTSB documents we obtained indicate the helicopter was operating with a Part 91 “General Aviation” certificate, not a Part 135 “Commercial Charter” certificate has tougher safety standards.

“That means that you have maintenance programs, that means you have FAA oversight, that means you have an operations manual, you have a chief pilot, you have a director of operations, you have training standards,” says Sanger.

Sanger claims many hog hunt operators are taking advantage of a loophole that allows them to fly up to six hunts a year with just a “General Aviation” certificate, if they stay within 25 miles of an airport and notify the FAA ahead of time.

He says the FAA needs to eliminate that loophole, or else more hunters will end up like Thomas Swan, whose injuries have made it difficult to continue farming.

“It was definitely a scary experience that’s for sure, the scariest experience I have ever been through,” Swan said.

We contacted the two companies that organized the trip, Heli Gunner and Lift Inc., neither had any comment. We spoke to other companies in the business who say before going on an aerial hunt you should ask if the operator has a Part 135 “Commercial Certificate.”

Oglesby man dead after hog hunting accident


Saturday, June 21, 2014

By OLIVIA MESSER omesser@wacotrib.com Waco Tribune-Herald

A man died Thursday night after he was crushed by an ATV while hog hunting in Coryell County.

William King, 73, from Oglesby, was hunting with three other men on four-wheelers near county roads 315 and 344 at about 11:00 p.m. when the accident happened, said Coryell County Sheriff Johnny Burks.

When they approached the Leon River, King reportedly fell off the bank about 20 feet down, and the ATV fell on top of him, Burks said.

When King’s friends ran down to pull the four-wheeler off, he was initially responsive and said he was fine. They reportedly called 911, but in the time it took deputies and emergency medical personnel to arrive, King stopped breathing.

Justice of the Peace Coy Latham pronounced King dead on scene.

“It appears to be an accidental death,” Burks said.

“People have four-wheeler accidents all the time, and lots of people go out hog hunting at night. We have a lot of hogs in Coryell County, and it’s not unusual.”


I’d Love to Change the World

I’ve been told that I’m not helping anything by being vegan; that I wasn’t going to be able to stop all the horrible things going on by taking a stand against animal consumption.

10151358_495324630593354_7512005859880238928_nThat’s a depressing thought, especially if you’re aware of the current holocaust happening all around us. Humans are slaughtering 6 million animals per hour. 20,000 more will die in the time it takes you to read these sentences! That’s a holocaust of farmed animals every 60 minutes. And that’s not counting fish, lobsters, shrimp, oysters, clams, krill or other sea life. But I’m not fooling myself, I know it would take a concerted, allied effort to stop these atrocities.

Even if I never saw positive results from promoting veganism in my short lifetime, there are other reasons for not eating animals. For me, veganism is about choosing not to add to the suffering our fellow Earthlings endure every day for the human appetite; it’s a form of dissent against the extreme cruelty millions of animals undergo so humans can have their steak and eat it too.

Veganism is my protest against the insanity of factory farming; against the existence of battery cages, cattle feedlots, industrialized dairies, veal crates, hog farming, commercial fishing, whaling, sealing, fur trapping, bow hunting, predator control, contest hunts, culling, derby killing and every other form of exploitation our species inflicts on the non-humans citizens of the world.

I might not be able to change the world, but at least I don’t have to be complicit in institutionalized animal cruelty. Non-human animals might hold little value to most people, but the laissez-faire acceptance of brutality and suffering will eventually come back on Homo sapiens and help facilitate the demise of the species.

In the immortal words of Woodstock headliners, Ten Years After:

“I’d love to change the world

But I don’t know what to do

So I’ll leave it up to you”


Recreational hog hunting popularity soaring

LINDSEY SHELTO, Associated Press

Saturday, April 5, 2014

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — A quick tap on the roof of the electric hunting cart and the pop of two rifle shots and Jody Greene and Jeff Goeggle have taken down their first hog of the night.

It’s one of hundreds they will kill this year; they bagged 420 last year.

Goeggle’s tap on the roof of the cart signals he has spotted a hog, and he and Greene both shoot to ensure one of them hits the animal. It’s a routine they’ll repeat during approximately 200 hunts in 2014.