H1N1 detected in NI pig herd

The Northern Irish government has confirmed the presence of swine flu in a pig herd in the Province.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) announced a pig herd had tested positive for the novel H1N1 influenza A.

Tests on a batch of piglets submitted by a private veterinary practice to the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute on 11 September proved positive for the virus.

A DARD spokesperson 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.”

As part of the Department’s contingency planning, a voluntary Code of Practice for pig keepers has been agreed in conjunction with industry.

The Code of Practice provides guidance to pig keepers on the actions they should take to reduce the risk of introduction of influenza viruses to pig herds and reduce the risk of onward spread if introduction does occur.

DARD said the code relates to all influenza viruses and pulls together existing best practice. The code is based on good biosecurity and herd health management as already practised.

DARD is providing advice to the affected farm and will continue to monitor developments and provide advice to the industry as required. Department of Health & Social Services and Health & Safety Executive NI (HSENI) have also been informed.

The Food Standards Agency advice is that novel H1N1 influenza A does not pose a food safety risk to consumers.