UK Reports First Case of H1N2 Swine Flu in Humans

Health officials have yet to identify the source of a novel H1N2 swine flu virus that infected one person in the United Kingdom.

On Monday, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed that one person became infected with influenza A(H1N2)v, a strain of swine flu similar to viruses circulating in UK pigs but different from other recent human swine flu cases worldwide.

The agency says the individual underwent a routine flu screening test at a healthcare facility in North Yorkshire after experiencing respiratory symptoms. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing and genome sequencing identified the strain as A(H1N2)v.

According to the UKHSA, the person experienced mild illness and fully recovered.

UK health officials are investigating the case to determine the characteristics of this swine flu strain and assess whether it poses a risk to human health. UKHSA and partner organizations are also tracing the individual's close contacts.

The agency says the individual infected did not have known exposure to pigs before becoming ill.

In a UK government press release, Meera Chand, Incident Director at UKHSA, said, "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."

The UKHSA says 50 human influenza A(H1N2)v cases have been reported globally since 2005. However, none of them are genetically related to this strain. Moreover, health officials have not previously detected human cases of A(H1N2)v in the UK.

"Based on early information, the infection detected in the UK is a distinct clade (1b.1.1), which is different from recent human cases of influenza A(H1N2) elsewhere in the world but is similar to viruses in UK swine," the UKHSA said.

In August, health officials in the United States reported that two people in Michigan contracted swine flu after pig exposure at separate agricultural fairs. CDC testing confirmed that two different viral strains caused the infections.

Though swine flu viruses occasionally infect humans, often through exposure to pigs, health agencies thoroughly investigate any human cases because of the potential for these viruses to mutate and spread among people. This type of person-to-person transmission occurred in 2009 when an H1N1 virus containing gene segments from human, swine, and avian influenza A viruses emerged and rapidly became a global pandemic.


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