The UK’s first human case of a new swine flu strain – which is similar to viruses currently circulating in pigs – has been detected, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed.
Officials are working rapidly to trace close contacts of the case and reduce any potential spread to the wider public.
Influenza A(H1N2)v was detected as part of routine national flu surveillance undertaken by UKHSA and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).
The person involved went to their GP in North Yorkshire with respiratory symptoms and is not known to have worked with pigs.
The source of the infection remains unknown and under investigation.
What is the new strain?
Influenza A(H1N2)v is similar to flu viruses currently circulating in pigs in the UK. It is not yet known how transmissible it is.
There have been 50 human cases of influenza A(H1N2)v reported globally since 2005, the UKHSA said.
However, the new strain differs from these cases, but is similar to viruses found in UK pigs.
What has the UKHSA said?
The UKHSA said it is “monitoring the situation closely” and is working to assess the characteristics of the virus and the risk posed to human health.
The organisation is also taking steps to increase surveillance on existing flu programmes involving GP surgeries and hospitals in areas of North Yorkshire.
Close contacts of the person involved are being followed up by the UKHSA and its partner organisations and people have been urged to test if asked to do so to help with the detection of cases. They will also be advised on further care if they have symptoms or test positive.
Pig-keepers have been urged to report any suspicion of swine flu in their herds to their local vet immediately.
The UKHSA has also notified the World Health Organisation (WHO).
What are the symptoms?
The infected individual reported a mild illness and has since recovered fully.
Symptoms of common respiratory infections include:
- continuous cough
- high temperature, fever or chills
- loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell
- shortness of breath
- unexplained tiredness, lack of energy
- muscle aches or pains that are not due to exercise
- not wanting to eat or not feeling hungry
- headache that is unusual or longer lasting than usual
- sore throat, stuffy or runny nose
- diarrhoea, feeling sick or being sick
The UKHSA’s advice for all respiratory symptoms remains the same: avoid contact with other people while they persist, particularly if they are old or have existing medical conditions.
You should also get plenty of rest and drink water to stay hydrated.