A multi-year study of flu viruses in pigs in China identified an influenza strain with the potential for pandemic spread in humans, researchers from China reported earlier this week. Their findings about the new strain, called “G4,” were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). According to their report, G4 carries lineage from European and Asian bird flu, the 2009 H1N1 pandemic strain, and North American H1N1 that includes genes from swine, avian, and human flu viruses. The paper said the H1N1 inclusion may promote G4’s adaptation into a virus that spreads between humans. Two cases have been documented of G4 spreading from pigs to humans, but the humans didn’t transmit it to other humans. The researchers encouraged development of a vaccine for the strain. Dr. Anthony Fauci discussed the implications of G4 based on the report’s findings during his appearance before a Senate committee on Tuesday. “It is something that is still in the stage of examination, it is not so-called ‘an immediate threat’ where you are seeing infections, but it is something that we need to keep our eye on just the way that we did in 2009 with the emergence of the swine flu,” he stated. Read the articles at The University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy and Homeland Security Today.