Swine flu horror: Here’s what we know about UK’s first case in a human and the virus itself

The UK’s first case of swine flu strain detected in a human has been confirmed by UKHSA.

UK’s first case of new swine flu detected in a human A(H1N2)v
UK’s first case of new swine flu detected in a human A(H1N2)v

As news circulates about an outbreak of a respiratory illness in China, the last thing anyone expected was a new case of swine flu in the UK. Yet, word has got out today that the UK has registered its first case of a particular strain of the virus in a human.

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Some may remember that another strain, H1N1, created a pandemic in 2009. According to The Telegraph:

Some 200,000 people are thought to have died from the outbreak, which began in Mexico in 2009 and spread quickly to countries across the globe including Britain, Australia and India.

The case detected recently is of a different kind of influenza, A(H1N2)v. Here’s what we know so far about the case and a summary of what swine flu actually looks like.

What we know about the new case

Health officials are still scrambling to trace the contacts of the person infected with this strain of the flu. According to The Guardian:

Fifty human cases of the strain have been reported globally since 2005. The new case is the first to be detected in the UK and is unrelated genetically to the previous cases.

The publication explains that the person infected only suffered a mild illness with it, and has recovered. They were not known to have worked with animals, and how they got the virus remains a mystery.

The person found out they had it because they visited their GP in a surgery in North Yorkshire. The doctor carried out a swab that was run through routine analysis.

Meera Chand, incident director at UKHSA, said:

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.

Researchers are working to find out what the source of this particular strain is, and chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss, said:

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.

What is swine flu?

The NHS notes that the strain of swine flu that caused the 2009 pandemic is now just considered a strain of ‘flu’ and is included in the flu vaccine. However, the list of symptoms is extensive:

  • 'fever (typically 38–40°C) - this tends to be more severe in children
  • fatigue/unusual tiredness
  • headache and sore throat
  • runny nose and sensitivity to light
  • shortness of breath or a cough
  • loss of appetite and aching muscles
  • vomiting or diarrhoea
  • insomnia
  • dry, unproductive cough'

If you have any of these symptoms, stay away from others to minimise the risk of infection - especially the elderly and vulnerable. Stay hydrated, and take painkillers to help relieve painful symptoms.

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Sources used:

The Guardian: UK detects its first human case of swine flu strain

The Telegraph: First UK case of new pig flu found in humans, UKHSA confirms

The Telegraph: Swine flu pandemic infected at least one in five people

NI Direct: Swine flu (H1N1)

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