New research by scientists in Canada has shown that pigs can spread the deadly Hendra virus to humans in the same way horses do.
In the study, boffins showed that pigs can contract the bat-borne virus, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
It is well known that cats, guinea pigs and ferrets can contract the virus, but its association with human infections was unknown - up till now.
Cows and sheep cannot be infected because the virus is unable to penetrate their cells but news that Hendra can be carried by pigs is of concern, given their prevalence.
"This new finding indicates that pigs are susceptible to HeV (Hendra) infections and could potentially play a role as an intermediate host in transmission to humans," said a report on the research by Canadian bodies including the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease.
Hendra is closely related to the potentially fatal Nipah virus - another bat-borne virus found in southeast Asia which is transmitted from bats to pigs and from pigs to humans.