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ThePopular events virus detected in British people is influenza A (h1n1). Since 2005, 50 people around the world have been infected with this virus. According to the information released by UK Health and Safety Agency (UK HSA) on November 27th, none of the previous cases had genetic relationship with British strains.
The case in Britain was discovered after doctors performed genetic tests on a patient in North Yorkshire who reported flu-like symptoms. The patient has now fully recovered. UKSHA said that they are still investigating how the patient was infected.
Scientists and medical personnel are now trying to learn more about the genetics of this human infection and monitor the evidence of interpersonal transmission.
Ed Hutchinson, a virologist at the University of Glasgow, said: "It is really important to monitor these cases, because if anything develops further, we really want to know about it."
Spillover infection of respiratory viruses, including influenza, from one species to another is quite common. Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia, said: "The reason why it suddenly appears now is that it spreads among pigs."
Respiratory viruses are spread through close contact, so people who work with pigs are particularly dangerous-although any close contact with infected animals may spread the virus. In most cases, people think that the spillover effect will not be found, because the infected person never feels uncomfortable and the virus will not spread further.
The spill-over effect in Britain was discovered partly because infected people felt unwell and could not see a doctor. Hutchinson said that there is a respiratory virus monitoring system in Britain. If a patient has flu-like symptoms and goes to see a doctor, the doctor will be encouraged to wipe the patient with a cotton swab and then send the sample for analysis.
Once the virus spreads to people, scientists will look for evidence that the virus spreads from person to person. Hunter said: "You don't know that it will become a threat unless you have evidence that it is beginning to spread more widely and its number is increasing." At present, there is no evidence that this happened in the cases of H1N2 found in Britain.
Hutchinson said that such spread is rare. He said: "The question is whether the virus can replicate enough in that person to infect not only them, but also another person. If the virus is not in the right host, this is actually very difficult to do. " "So usually for overflow situations, this will not happen."
However, influenza viruses are unusual because they can reproduce, which means that different viruses can combine their genes during replication. This helps the virus adapt from one species to another.
Hutchinson said: "If you let two different viruses infect the same cell at the same time, the virus may have both genes from one virus and genes from another virus." It's called reorganization.
This process is particularly worrying, when it leads to a virus with many genes adapted to human beings, so it is good at replicating in human beings, and it has a new non-human source of protein-protein used by human antibodies to identify and destroy the virus.
The virus that caused the swine flu pandemic in 2009 was a mixture of different viruses: swine flu, human flu and avian flu all exchanged genes, Hutchinson said. Hutchinson said: "Then another swine flu was mixed with that one to produce a virus that can jump to humans, so this is an extremely complicated mixed and matched version."