The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has detected a single confirmed human case of influenza A(H1N2)v – a new form of swine flu.
Influenza A(H1N2)v is similar to flu viruses circulating in pigs in the UK, however this is the first detection of this strain of flu in a human in the UK.
This case was detected during the routine national flu surveillance organised by UKHSA and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). The person was tested by their GP after having respiratory symptoms. Influenza A(H1N2)v was detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing and characterised using genome sequencing.
The individual experienced a mild illness and has fully recovered. Contact tracing is being carried out to prevent any further spread of the illness; it is not yet known how transmissible this strain is or whether there are other strains in the country. Any close contacts will be offered testing as necessary and advised on further care if they experience symptoms or test positive.
The source of the infection has not yet been discovered and remains under investigation.
Meera Chand, Incident Director at UKHSA, said: “It is thanks to routine flu surveillance and genome sequencing that we have been able to detect this virus. 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.
“We are working rapidly to trace close contacts and reduce any potential spread. In accordance with established protocols, investigations are underway to learn how the individual acquired the infection and to assess whether there are any further associated cases.”
Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss, added: “Through our animal and human surveillance systems we work together to protect everyone. In this case we are providing specialist veterinary and scientific knowledge to support the UKHSA investigation. Pig keepers must also report any suspicion of swine flu in their herds to their local vet immediately.”
UKHSA is monitoring the situation closely and is taking steps to increase surveillance within existing programmes involving GP surgeries and hospitals in parts of North Yorkshire.