First Human Case of New Swine Flu Strain Detected in the U.K.

Structure of the h1n1 swine flu virus isolated

U.K. health officials have reported a person with a flu strain typically found in pigs, marking the first time this variant has been detected in a human in the country.

The U.K. Health Security Agency is working to determine any risks the pathogen might pose to human health, it said in a statement Monday. The person experienced only a mild illness and has fully recovered, according to the agency.

It’s not unusual for flu viruses to jump to other species, but experts track those events closely for fear that the pathogen will adapt to the new host and become transmissible among humans. A swine flu virus sparked a pandemic in 2009 that affected millions of people globally. 

The U.K. case was detected as part of routine surveillance and the patient’s contacts are now being followed by health authorities.

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“This is the first time we have detected this virus in humans in the U.K., though it is very similar to viruses that have been detected in pigs,” said Meera Chand, Incident Director at the Health Security Agency. “We are working rapidly to trace close contacts and reduce any potential spread.”

The variant was first found in a minor in the U.S. state of Michigan earlier this year.

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Contributor: Marthe Fourcade / Bloomberg