By John Ensor •
Published: 28 Nov 2023 • 8:53
Stock Image Of Woman Coughing.
Credit: Josep Suria/Shutterstock.com
COULD there be a new health concern on the horizon? Health Authorities in the UK have identified the country’s first human infection with a strain of swine flu not seen before.
According to a report from Gov.UK, The virus, closely resembling those found in the UK’s swine populations, marks a significant first in the UK’s flu history.
The detection occurred as part of the routine national flu monitoring conducted by the UK Health Security Agency UKHSA and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).
The infected individual, who has now fully recovered, experienced mild respiratory symptoms and was tested by their GP. The UKHSA, through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing and genome sequencing, confirmed the presence of the influenza A(H1N2)v virus. The source of the infection is still under investigation.
In response, the UKHSA is closely tracking the situation and has begun tracing and monitoring close contacts of the individual. Those in contact with the case will be offered testing and advised on further care if necessary. This includes individuals displaying symptoms or testing positive for the virus.
UKHSA advises people with respiratory symptoms to avoid contact with others, especially the elderly or those with pre-existing medical conditions. The agency is enhancing surveillance in GP surgeries and hospitals, particularly in parts of North Yorkshire.
The public, when contacted, is encouraged to participate in testing to aid in assessing transmission and detecting additional cases.
Meera Chand, Incident Director at UKHSA, stated: ‘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.’
Christine Middlemiss, 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.’
Influenza A(H1) viruses are commonly found in swine populations globally. Human infections with swine influenza viruses, like this recent case in the UK, are rare but can occur.
According to the report, ‘there have been a total of 50 human cases of influenza A(H1N2)v reported globally since 2005. However, the UK’s detected strain is distinct from other global cases, more closely resembling viruses in UK pigs.
In 2009, the H1N1(pdm09) virus, originally referred to as ‘swine flu‘, caused a pandemic. It now circulates seasonally in humans and is different from current swine flu viruses.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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