PIGS in Northern Ireland have contracted the human form of swine flu, it has been confirmed.
It is the first European case of the H1N1 pandemic flu virus being found in pigs, although such cases have been reported elsewhere.
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Belfast said tests on a batch of piglets submitted by a private veterinary practice tested positive for the virus. A spokesperson said this finding is not unexpected, given that this virus is currently circulating in humans.
The Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland said swine flu posed no food safety risk as it was not transmissible through pork.
Northern Ireland’s chief vet Bert Houston said farmers with swine flu 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 said.
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.
“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,” he said.
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