A pig herd in Northern Ireland has tested positive for swine flu.

According to a statement from the North's Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, tests on a batch of piglets confirmed that they had contracted the virus.

A spokesperson said ‘Influenza viruses, including Influenza A, were present in all pig producing countries, and were considered endemic in the pig population. Given that the virus was currently circulating in humans, the finding was not unexpected.’

The Department has a contingency plan in place, which includes a voluntary code of practice for pig farmers.

The spokesman said the Department was providing advice to the affected farm and would continue to monitor developments and provide advice to the industry as required.

The relevant authorities have been informed that the presence of the virus in pigs does not pose a food safety risk to consumers.

A spokesperson for the Ulster Farmers’ Union said it ‘almost certainly appears that the animals contracted it from human contact’.

He said to his knowledge it was the first of its case in Europe, but not in the world.

However the UFU is keen to stress that both the World Health Organisation and the Food Standards Agency are in agreement that the virus does not pose a food safety risk.

He says that pigs with the virus should be treated like children at a school, they should be isolated from the rest until they recover.

UFU President Graham Furey is in Dublin today meeting with his counterpart from the Irish Farmers' Association.