'Swine coronavirus has potential to infect humans'

A strain of coronavirus that has devastated the pork industry has the potential to infect humans as well, say researchers, adding that the virus could impact the global economy and human health.

The coronavirus strain known as Swine Acute Diarrhoea Syndrome Coronavirus (SADS-CoV), emerged from bats and has infected swine herds throughout China since it was first discovered in 2016.

The outbreak of such an illness has the potential to wreak economic havoc on many countries across the globe that rely on the pork industry.

The virus’ potential threat to people was demonstrated in lab tests that revealed SADS-CoV efficiently replicated in human liver and gut cells as well as airway cells, reported the study published in the journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’.

“Though it is from the same family of viruses as the betacoronavirus SARS-CoV-2 which causes the respiratory illness Covid-19 in humans, SADS-CoV is an alphacoronavirus that causes gastrointestinal illness in swine,” said the study authors from the University of North Carolina in the US.

The virus causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting and has been especially deadly to young piglets. SADS-COV is also distinct from two circulating common cold alphacoronaviruses in humans, HCoV-229E and HCoV-NL63.