Britain was today rocked by fresh swine flu fears after someone was sickened by a strain never seen here before.
Officials don’t know how the unidentified Brit, thought to be from north Yorkshire, got infected, sparking concerns it could be silently spreading.
UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) bosses are racing to contain the virus, hunting down all contacts of the individual who battled a ‘mild’ illness before making a full recovery at home.
They were only caught after being tested during a GP appointment, seeking help for flu-like symptoms.
Brits battling ‘respiratory symptoms’, such as a runny nose, cough and sore throat, are now being urged to avoid contact with other people. Similar advice is used for Covid.
Symptoms of swine flu — which sparked a pandemic that raced around the world in 2009 — mirror those of regular flu and Covid.
It doesn’t spread easily between humans.
Most cases occur among people exposed to infected pigs, such as any visitors of country fairs and farmers. Swine flu cases surge in pigs in autumn and winter.
Virologists, however, fear swine flu could eventually pick up mutations that allow it to rip through populations rapidly.
The strain carried by the infected Brit, H1N2, is different from the type that sparked the swine flu crisis over a decade ago.
That variant, scientifically known as H1N1(pdm09), contained genetic material from viruses circulating in pigs, birds and humans.
Deaths are rare, and the illness usually clears up in a few weeks. As well as the usual flu symptoms, some may experience diarrhoea and vomiting.
Professor Ian Jones, a virologist from the University of Reading, cautioned that ‘not every new agent is a threat’.
He said: ‘It’s very unlikely the single case of H1N2 swine flu reported today represents anything more than has been seen in the past.
‘Although a single case may not be representative, the fact the individual concerned had a mild infection that resolved without hospitalization is also in keeping with previous experience.’
But one emergency medicine doctor said they had their ‘finger’s crossed’ that it will not transmit easily. Dr Mike wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he hoped the virus will become a ‘dead-end’.
The unidentified individual has now ‘fully recovered’, officials said. But the source of infection ‘remains under investigation’.