The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued a warning after a flu strain, similar to that found in pigs, has been detected for the first time in a human in the UK.
In a report issued today (November 27) the health body advised that a case of influenza A(H1N2)v had been picked up after a person started experiencing “respiratory symptoms”.
According to the UKHSA, the source of their infection is not yet known and remains “under investigation”.
Now the health body is urging anyone with respiratory issues, such as a cough or shortness of breath, to avoid contact with others.
Influenza A(H1N2)v is “similar” to flu viruses currently circulating in pigs in the UK, however, is different to the strain responsible for previous outbreaks of swine flu.
A UKHSA spokesman said: “As is usual early in emerging infection events, UKHSA is working closely with partners to determine the characteristics of the pathogen and assess the risk to human health.”
This case was detected using a PCR test as part of routine national flu surveillance.
The affected person was tested by their GP after experiencing respiratory symptoms.
According to the UKHSA, the person experienced a “mild” illness and has now fully recovered.
Anyone who came into contact with the infected person will also be offered testing.
Meera Chand, incident director at the 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 under way to learn how the individual acquired the infection and to assess whether there are any further associated cases.”
In the update, the UKHSA advised: “People with any respiratory symptoms should continue to follow the existing guidance; avoid contact with other people while symptoms persist, particularly if the people they are coming into contact with are elderly or have existing medical conditions.”
H1N2 is one of three major subtypes of swine influenza A viruses found in pigs that occasionally infect humans, usually after direct or indirect exposure to pigs or contaminated environments.
There have been a total of 50 human cases of influenza A(H1N2)v reported globally since 2005, but none of them are related genetically to this strain.
Christine Middlemiss, the UK’s chief veterinary officer, added: “We know that some diseases of animals can be transferred to humans – which is why high standards of animal health, welfare and biosecurity are so important.
“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.”
The swine flu pandemic in 2009 was caused by the H1N1 strain. It led to an estimated 284,400 deaths worldwide.
Post source: Daily Express