Amidst pandemic, researchers keep their eye on a new strain of swine flu

The CDC recently called a new strain of swine flu " a potential pandemic concern" as the strain is being studied in China.

A new strain of swine flu has the attention of health officials but a researcher at UNL hopes years of research will soon pay off.

“My reaction was of concern,” said Eric Weaver, a UNL professor for the Nebraska Center of Virology. “Any time there are new strains circulating in the swine population, there is a risk that they could jump into the human population and spread human to human. Luckily for us, it doesn’t happen all that frequently.”

The CDC recently called a new strain of swine flu, ” a potential pandemic concern” as the strain is being studied in China. It is newer, and its found on pig farms there.
“There’s often swine viruses that do get into humans, they’re termed variants,” said Weaver. “They’re almost always dead ends, every once in a while they do transfer to humans. We saw that in 2009.”
Weaver says in a few weeks, he and researchers will release a study. A vaccine for pigs that can stop many of variations of swine flu from transferring.
“This study looks at a new strategy for vaccinating swine, which is a reservoir for the influenza viruses that can jump in humans,” said Weaver. “What we’ve found is that when we vaccinate with our new vaccine, we can protect against 75 percent of variants in the population.”
Weaver hopes the study gets a proposal from the USDA to further the study. He says slowing the spread in pigs could help slow the spread to humans.
“Well, the idea is that if we can protect pigs from us and we protect us from pigs, then we’ll have a healthier society,” adds Weaver.
Weaver says he looks forward to studying the most recent strain of swine flu at UNL so the study can eventually help develop future vaccines for all strains of the swine flu.

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