The first human case of swine flu strain H1N2 has been detected in Great Britain, according to the United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
The unidentified individual from North Yorkshire was examined by a GP after suffering breathing problems.
The person, who is not known to have worked with pigs, experienced a “mild illness” and has since made a full recovery.
The flu strain, called H1N2, is similar to flu viruses circulating among pigs in the UK, but this is the first detection of this flu strain in a human in the UK.
It is not known at this time how transmissible the strain is or whether there could be other cases in the UK. It’s also too early to say whether the strain could have pandemic potential.
Health authorities have not yet found the source of the infection and have launched an investigation, the UKHSA said.
Meera Chand, incident manager at UKHSA, said: “Through routine flu surveillance and genome sequencing we have been able to detect this virus. This is the first time we have detected this virus in humans in the UK, although it is very similar to viruses that have been detected in pigs.
“We are working quickly to trace close contacts and reduce any potential spread. In accordance with established protocols, investigations are being carried out to find out how the individual acquired the infection and to evaluate if there are more associated cases.”
H1N1, H1N2 and H3N2 are the main types of swine flu in pigs and can infect humans. It usually occurs after exposure to sick pigs. Since 2005, only 50 cases of H1N2 have been reported worldwide.
In 2009, a pandemic caused by H1N1 caused 474 deaths in the United Kingdom and sparked a global health emergency.
Veterinary director Christine Middlemiss said: “We know that some animal diseases can be transmitted 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 provide specialist scientific and veterinary expertise to support UKHSA research. Pig farmers should also immediately inform their local veterinarian of any suspected swine flu in their herds.”