Published: Tue, May 15, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Pig virus poses potentially lethal threat to humans, scientists warn

Pig virus poses potentially lethal threat to humans, scientists warn

The scientists and researchers in the Ohio State University and Utrecht University in the Netherlands came together to understand the research and the new studies on the virus and find the potential outcomes.

Porcine deltacoronavirus was first identified in 2012 in pigs in China, but was not linked to a disease at that time. Later, in the year 2014, when there was a diarrhea outbreak in the U.S. in OH pigs, it was detected and later was identified in a number of other countries. The young pigs that are infected by the virus experience vast vomiting and acute diarrhea which means that the disease can be considered as fatal. The disease can be fatal.

"Before it was found in pigs-including in the Ohio outbreak-it had only been found in various birds", shared Linda Saif, PhD, senior author on the study and a distinguished university professor at The Ohio State University in the Food Animal Health Research Program (OARDC) and the Veterinary Preventive Medicine Department (CVM, OSU) in the press release.

While so far no human cases have been documented, the researchers are anxious because of its similarity to the life-threating viruses responsible for SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) outbreaks.

"A receptor is like a lock in the door".

In what is believed to be the first study to indicate that the virus could transfer between species, researchers investigated a receptor called aminopeptidase N, which the virus could latch onto.

So far, no one has known that pigs have been infected with porcine coronaviruses.

While no human cases have been recorded yet, the possibility looms due to the ability of the virus to infect the cells of different species.

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Their investigation confirmed that the virus could bind to the receptor in pigs, which was not a big surprise. The virus can easily find its way in the cultured cells of people and other species in the laboratory.

"From this point of view, this is only a question of whether it can replicate within the cell and cause these animal and human diseases".

Added Saif, "This doesn't prove that this virus can infect and cause disease in these other species, but that's something we obviously want to know".

At the time, experts dismissed the possibility that the virus could jump to humans, hence, nullifying altogether any direct threat to public health.

"We now know for sure that porcine deltacoronavirus can bind to and enter cells of humans and birds". They found that the virus was able to bind to the receptor in chicken, cat and human cells.

After an outbreak began in China, SARS killed 774 people between 2002 and 2003 in 37 countries, according to the World Health Organization. SARS, which originated in bats before infecting humans, was also found in camels. For four decades, there has been no evidence yet of anyone getting infected by the virus even among those people who worked closely with pigs.

A swine biosecurity specialist from the Iowa State University in Ames estimated that a tablespoon of manure infected with the virus could infect an entire herd of hogs.

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