SADS-CoV: Swine coronavirus could jump to humans, finds study

WION Web Team New Delhi Oct 17, 2020, 02.01 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Agencia EFE )

Story highlights

Chinese authorities have been looking to prevent African swine fever with a vaccine under trial. An outbreak of the disease in China last year had seen millions of pigs being slaughtered to prevent an epidemic.

According to a study, an emerging coronavirus strain in swine has the potential to jump species and infect humans.

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The study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences(PNAS) found that swine acute diarrhoea syndrome(SADS-CoV) caused diarrhoea and vomiting and it had a devastating effect on baby pigs as it killed 90 per cent of the piglets under five days.

The virus which belongs to the SARS-CoV-2 family has also reportedly emerged from bats, just like COVID-19.

The scientists said the likely way it could spread to humans would be through pig farms where workers remained in close contact with swine with China being world’s largest pork producer in the world followed by the European Union and the United States. Germany is Europe's largest producer of pork, slaughtering more than 55 million pigs in 2019, according to government statistics. 

The scientists recommended that the Chinese swine industry should be kept under surveillance to monitor the possible spread of SADS-CoV.

The experts said the virus causes gastrointestinal issues in pigs but it could produce "respiratory" issues in humans like COVID-19.

Germany had recently reported new cases of African swine fever among wild boars and domestic pigs but was not harmful to humans. China had banned the import of pork products from Germany after it confirmed its first case of African swine fever.

Chinese authorities have been looking to prevent African swine fever with a vaccine under trial. An outbreak of the disease in China last year had seen millions of pigs being slaughtered to prevent an epidemic.