The discovery was made by college students at the veterinary faculty at Udayana University, who were seeking the cause of illnesses in pigs that occurred several months ago. The University has not yet provided the government with an official report.
Pigs are a concern because they can act as mixing vessels, in which genetic material from avian flu
viruses can mix with human influenza viruses, potentially producing new and deadly strains for which humans have no immunity.
According to the World Health Organisation
web site, the avian influenza virus can improve its transmissibility among humans via a ‘reassortment’ event, in which genetic material is exchanged between human and avian viruses during co-infection of a human or pig. Reassortment could result in a fully transmissible pandemic virus, announced by a sudden surge of cases with explosive spread.
The WHO says that the H5N1 virus, which has killed 148 people worldwide, has met all prerequisites for the start of a pandemic save one: an ability to spread efficiently and sustainably among humans.