A new strain of swine flu, similar to a flu virus currently circulating in pigs, has been identified in a human in the UK for the first time. The individual, who visited their GP in North Yorkshire with breathing difficulties, was diagnosed with the infection known as influenza A(H1N2)v as part of routine national flu surveillance. The person in question had not worked with pigs and has since made a full recovery. The source of the infection is currently unknown and under investigation. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is closely monitoring the situation and increasing surveillance within existing programs involving GP surgeries and hospitals.
Since 2005, there have been a total of 50 reported cases of influenza A(H1N2)v in humans globally, but none of them are genetically related to this particular strain. H1N1, H1N2, and H3N2 are major subtypes of swine flu A viruses that occasionally infect humans. Based on preliminary information, the strain detected in the UK differs from recent human cases of H1N2 in other parts of the world but is similar to viruses found in UK pigs.
Meera Chand, incident director at UKHSA, stated, “This is the first time we have detected this virus in humans in the UK, though it is very similar to viruses that have been detected in pigs.” Christine Middlemiss, the chief veterinary officer, emphasized the importance of high standards of animal health, welfare, and biosecurity in preventing the transmission of diseases from animals to humans. The UKHSA is collaborating with veterinary and scientific experts to support the investigation.
Although the discovery of this new swine flu strain does not indicate an imminent pandemic, scientists will seek to understand more about the virus, including its transmissibility and potential risks to vulnerable individuals. Pig-keepers have been encouraged to report any suspicion of swine flu in their herds to local veterinarians promptly. It remains uncertain how transmissible the strain is and whether there are other cases in the UK. The UKHSA has informed the World Health Organization (WHO) about this latest case.
In 2009, a pandemic caused by the H1N1 flu strain, commonly known as swine flu, occurred in humans. This strain now circulates seasonally among humans.