Ohio State researchers find new pig virus could threaten humans

Ohio State researchers find new pig virus could threaten humans

COLUMBUS, OH (WOIO) - A recently identified pig virus can readily find its way into laboratory-cultured cells of people and other species, a discovery that raises concerns about the potential for outbreaks that threaten human and animal health, Ohio State News reports.

Researchers at The Ohio State University and Utrecht University in the Netherlands collaborated to better understand the new virus and its potential reach. Their study, the first to point to possible transmission of this virus between species, appears in the journal PNAS.

Porcine deltacoronavirus was first identified in 2012 in pigs in China, but it was not associated with disease. It was first detected in the United States in 2014 during a diarrhea outbreak in Ohio pigs and has since been detected in various countries. Young, infected pigs experience acute diarrhea and vomiting. The disease can be fatal. As of yet, no human cases have been documented, but scientists are concerned about the possibility.

"Before it was found in pigs – including in the Ohio outbreak – it had only been found in various birds," said study senior author Linda Saif, an investigator in Ohio State's Food Animal Health Research Program at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), in Wooster.

Emergence of the new virus is especially worrisome to veterinary and public-health experts because of its similarity to the life-threatening viruses responsible for SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) outbreaks.

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