By Mekialaya White

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Just as Americans are fighting off another surge of COVID-19 cases, a new type of swine flu with the ability to trigger a pandemic is emerging in China. That’s according to a study published in the U.S. scientific journal PNAS.

(credit: CBS)

“There’s hundreds, probably thousands of flus that are circulating at any given time,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, UCHealth Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control. “There are flus that exist throughout the world, some affect humans, some affect pigs, some affect birds.”

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What makes this new G4 flu different, however, is its genetic connection to H1N1, the swine flu that caused a pandemic more than a decade ago. The flu can move from pigs to infect humans. It is a respiratory virus that Barron says could cause similar symptoms to COVID-19, including fever, chills, cough, and other complications.

Barron told CBS4’s Mekialaya White, candidly, it’s better to be prepared.

“We have (flu) pandemics about every 10 years. We’re due. Our last one was in 2009. And they’re typically separate from things like novel coronavirus or Ebola or some of these other things.”

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Dr. Michelle Barron (credit: CBS)

Barron also says what’s concerning about the new flu is the fact that we don’t have immunity to it. It could cause complications, especially with the fall months approaching.

“We lucked out in that when coronavirus finally kicked in, we were already kind of at the end of our flu season, but I don’t know that the fall will be as optimistic,” she said.

“I think people feel like well, we had the coronavirus, COVID-19, we’re good. I don’t think so. I think we still have to keep in the back of our mind that we could have a really horrific new flu come through. But it could not. There’s mild versions and there’s really terrible versions and historically there’s no rhyme or reason for which one you get.”

Barron says if G4 were to spread, doctors at UCHealth are prepared.

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“We have contingency plans that are set up so that if any of these were to come, we have ways to detect, then implement those plans so we can keep everybody safe.”

Mekialaya White