The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) disclosed the identification of the first human case of the H1N2 swine flu strain, closely resembling the variant circulating in pigs. The discovery, made through routine surveillance in general practitioner surgeries, was triggered by the individual’s experience of a mild illness.
Efforts are underway to contain the potential spread of the virus through contact tracing, although it remains uncertain how easily transmissible the strain is and whether additional cases exist within the UK. The UKHSA has promptly informed the World Health Organization about the case, emphasizing that the pandemic potential of the strain is undetermined at this early stage.
Since 2005, there have been around 50 reported human cases of the H1N2 virus globally, with no genetic links to the current strain. The affected individual is reported to have fully recovered and had no known contact with pigs. The case was detected as part of the regular national flu surveillance conducted by the UKHSA and the Royal College of GPs.
The individual in North Yorkshire underwent testing after experiencing respiratory symptoms, with Polymerase Chain Reaction testing and genome sequencing revealing the H1N2 strain. The UKHSA urges individuals with respiratory symptoms to adhere to existing guidance, including avoiding contact with others while symptomatic and exercising extra caution around vulnerable individuals and the elderly.
Meera Chand, incident director at the UKHSA, emphasized the role of routine flu surveillance and genome sequencing in detecting the virus. Contact tracing is ongoing, and investigations aim to determine how the individual acquired the infection and assess whether there are any further associated cases.
Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss highlighted the importance of high standards in animal health, welfare, and biosecurity, considering the potential transfer of diseases from animals to humans.