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Northern Ireland: Pig herd catches H1N1

A herd of pigs in Northern Ireland has contracted the novel influenza A virus (H1N1), previously called 'swine flu', several British media report.

It is the first European case of the H1N1 pandemic flu virus being found in pigs, although such cases have been reported in Canada, Argentina and Australia.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said swine flu posed no food safety risk as it was not transmissible through pork. According to first reports, five piglets have been affected by the virus.

Not unexpected

A spokesperson for The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) said: "Influenza viruses, including Influenza A, are present in all pig producing countries, including here and Great Britain and are considered endemic in the pig population. 

"Given that this virus is currently circulating in humans this finding is not unexpected."

Chief vet

Northern Ireland's chief veterinarian Bert Houston said farmers who had developed the novel influenza virus should try to keep away from their pigs.

"We have issued a code of practice which contains advice to farmers on how to reduce the risk of influenza entering pig herds and how to minimise onward spread if introduction does occur," he added.

Farmers Union

Ulster Farmers Union president Graham Furey said he felt the pork industry would not be affected.

"People should understand that pigs can get sick just as humans do – in the vast majority of cases people recover from influenza in the same way as pigs," he said.

"It may just mean the pig takes a fortnight longer to mature but there's no reason why these pigs should be put down – they should recover with time and a bit of care."

Related websites:

Ulster Farmers Union
Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD)
Food Standards Agency

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