A person in North Yorkshire has recently been diagnosed with a strain of flu known as influenza A(H1N2)v, which is similar to a virus that circulates in pigs. This is the first time this particular virus has been detected in humans in the UK, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). The case has raised concerns and the public is eager to gather more information about this novel virus.
Influenza A(H1N2)v is a strain of flu that is comparable to a strain found in pigs in the UK. Although the exact source of transmission is unknown in this case, the infected individual in North Yorkshire presented with breathing difficulties during a routine national flu surveillance. It is worth mentioning that they did not have any history of working with pigs. Thankfully, the infected person experienced only mild symptoms and has since made a full recovery. The UKHSA is actively monitoring and following up with close contacts of the case, providing testing and treatment as necessary.
Global Cases and Uniqueness
While there have been 50 reported cases of A(H1N2)v in humans worldwide since 2005, it is important to note that none of these cases involved the same strain identified in North Yorkshire. The UKHSA categorizes this strain as a “distinct clade” that is different from other known cases globally, yet closely related to viruses found in UK pigs. A case in the United States involved an 18-year-old who was diagnosed with A(H1N2)v after direct contact with pigs at an agricultural fair. However, in that instance, there was no human-to-human transmission.
It is crucial to understand that A(H1N2)v is not the same as the H1N1 virus responsible for the swine flu pandemic in 2009. The H1N1 virus from that time contained genetic material from viruses found in pigs, birds, and humans, and it is now circulated seasonally in humans. The A(H1N2)v strain is a subtype of the influenza A virus and typically circulates within specific species, including humans, birds, and pigs. However, it does not easily transmit between species nor among humans, according to the World Health Organization. It is important to note that A(H1N2)v is not linked to bird flu, which is currently of concern due to the spread of the H5N1 strain to mammals.
The UKHSA is actively monitoring the situation and has plans to enhance flu surveillance in parts of North Yorkshire. Additionally, investigations are underway to determine the source of the virus transmission in the North Yorkshire case. The UKHSA has also notified the World Health Organization about this recent incident. For individuals experiencing respiratory symptoms, the UKHSA advises avoiding contact with others, especially the elderly or those with pre-existing medical conditions. This recommendation aligns with the general advice for respiratory illnesses.
The detection of the influenza A(H1N2)v virus in humans in North Yorkshire has raised important questions regarding the source and potential risks of this strain. While it is the first case in the UK, it is essential to understand that it is a distinct strain from previous global cases. Ongoing monitoring, enhanced surveillance, and precautions, such as avoiding contact with others during illness, are crucial to managing the situation effectively. The timely and transparent communication from the UKHSA and other health organizations will play a vital role in addressing public concerns and ensuring appropriate measures are in place to prevent further spread of the virus.