KOBE, Japan, April 30 (UPI) -- Some pigs in Indonesia are carrying the H5N1 avian flu virus, which could mutate into a new strain inside the pigs, researcher at Japan's Kobe University said.
If the virus mutates in pigs and becomes transmittable between humans, the potential new strain could be more virulent than the current outbreak of swine flu, or H1N1, Tokyo newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported Thursday.
Researchers at Kobe University's Center for Infectious Diseases detected the H5N1 virus in 52 pigs, more than one in 10 of the 402 pigs they examined from four Indonesian provinces, the newspaper said. Pigs are capable of transmitting the virus to birds and people, researchers said.
Researchers said further examination found in some pigs a strain of a type of virus that could be transmitted to humans under certain conditions.
"It's a surprising result," said Yoshiyuki Nagai, director of the Center of Research Network for Infectious Diseases. "Perhaps we are looking at the process by which a new strain of influenza becomes infectious. We need to be vigilant."