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Scientists sound alarm about novel influenza virus

A strain of influenza virus called G4, which contains avian and mammalian influenza genes, is circulating in pigs in China and has the potential to mutate to spread readily among humans, researchers reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The virus combines components of an H1N1 strain common in European and Asian birds, the H1N1 strain that caused a pandemic in 2009, and an H1N1 strain common in North America that itself combines genes from avian, swine and human influenza viruses. Experts urged heightened surveillance, and first author Sun Honglei said scientists should begin work now on a vaccine.

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