A study published in the scientific journal PNAS found that a type of coronavirus that infects pigs can also infect humans and pose a threat to public health worldwide, with pandemic potential.
The virus identified as SADS-CoV causes acute diarrhea in pigs, in many cases, lethally. The pathogen is believed to have originated in bats and subsequently to infect pig herds in China and other countries.
In humans, as observed in the laboratory, the virus can reproduce efficiently in cells of the lungs and intestines.
Also according to the authors of the study, pig workers presented high levels of the virus in their blood, and for this reason “the strict monitoring of human populations, especially of workers in the swine industry, must be implemented urgently”.
The study highlights the risks of viruses crossing the species barrier for humans, especially in densely populated regions of China, where millions live close to farms, breeding grounds, slaughterhouses and wet markets.
In addition to the health threat, researchers point out that outbreaks of this disease have the potential to wreak economic havoc in many countries that depend on the pork industry.
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