Pig virus may pose threat to humans

Leslie Hanson
May 15, 2018

Research shows that the recently discovered pig virus may pose a potentially lethal threat to the human population.

Laboratory tests revealed that porcine deltacoronavirus, first detected in China in 2012, could jump from pig cells into human cells. By 2014, was detected for the first time in the US during a pig diarrhea outbreak in OH, and has since been reported in several other countries. "Young infected pigs experience acute diarrhoea and vomiting and may die", according to BT News.

In a paper published to PNAS, a team from Ohio State University and Utrecht University in the Netherlands detailed its findings on the virus identified as porcine deltacoronavirus.

Pathogens show similarities to deadly viruses that cause Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and Mers (Middle East respiratory syndrome), which together kill more than 1,000 people.

It was then found to be the cause of a diarrhoea outbreak among pigs in OH in 2014, followed by reports of more cases in other countries.

A piglet is seen at a pig farm on the outskirts of Beijing, on June 5, 2017.

"We are very anxious about the emerging coronaviruses and we are anxious that they will cause harm to animals and they may jump into humans", said senior author Linda Saif, a distinguished professor of veterinary medicine at Ohio State University and an investigator at Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC).

According to lead researcher Scott Kenney, PhD, assistant professor of veterinary preventive medicine based in the Food Animal Health Research Program at OARDC, viruses have the potential to move from one species to another if they are able to bind to receptors on the other species' cells.

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


So far during testing, the cultured cells showed that while human cells could be infected, it is also infected cells from cats and chickens, significant carriers of viruses which could potentially be easily transferred to humans.

Locking onto the receptor, a multifunctional enzyme called aminopeptidase N allows the virus to gain access to its host. Since then, the virus has appeared in pigs in various countries.

"From that point, it's just a matter of whether it can replicate within the cells and cause disease in those animals and humans". She believes that the emerging coronaviruses in across the globe can be a subject to worry because it is unknown what it can do to harm the animals and what if it jumps to humans.

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.

"We know for sure that porcine deltacoronavirus can bind to and enter cells of humans and birds", Saif explains.

Saif said it's important to recognize that, for now, the only known infection in humans and other species is in the laboratory, using cultured cells.

Moving forward, researchers hope to uncover whether the virus has infected humans, and to understand if a sick pig can transmit the virus to other animals, and visa versa.

In 2002 and 2003, a Sars outbreak that began in China was linked to 774 deaths in 37 countries.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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