A variant of the flu strain H1N2, similar to one that’s currently circulating in pigs, has been detected in a human for the first time in the UK.
The case of influenza A(H1N2)v was recently detected as part of routine national flu surveillance after an individual visited the doctor with respiratory systems, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced on Monday.
The person reportedly experienced a mild illness and has since fully recovered. However, the UKHSA states they have not yet worked out how the person became infected and the case remains under investigation.
“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,” said Meera Chand, Incident Director at UKHSA. “We are working rapidly to trace close contacts and reduce any potential spread.”
“Pig keepers must also report any suspicion of swine flu in their herds to their local vet immediately," added Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss.
Elsewhere in the world, a total of 50 human cases of influenza A(H1N2)v have been reported globally since 2005, none of which were related genetically to the recently identified strain.
Preliminary information suggests the infection strain detected in the UK belongs to a distinct clade (called 1b.1.1), which is different from recent human cases of influenza A(H1N2) elsewhere in the world. It is, however, similar to virus strains currently circulating among pigs in the UK.
Also of note: this latest influenza virus is different from the one that caused a pandemic in 2009, influenza A H1N1(pdm09), commonly referred to as "swine flu." That strain is now circulating in humans seasonally and is distinct from the viruses currently circulating in pigs.