Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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Pandemic H1N1 flu virus found in pigs in Norfolk

A sixth case of pandemic H1N1 2009 influenza virus in pigs was yesterday  confirmed in the UK.

Pigs on a farm in Norfolk have been confirmed as having a strain of influenza commonly known as ‘swine flu’ in people. This follows earlier cases in Northern Ireland.

Routine scanning surveillance has confirmed that the strain of the virus found is virtually identical to strains currently circulating in humans. It is not uncommon for pigs to be affected by influenza. Influenza in pigs is not a notifiable disease.

Voluntary measures set out in a new Code of Practice on influenza in pigs drawn up by the pig industry, Defra, Devolved Administrations and other government bodies, are in place on the farm.

There is no food safety risk, pandemic H1N1 2009 has not been shown to be transmissible to people through eating properly handled and cooked pork or pork products.

Further information

Notes to editors

  1. Pandemic H1N1 2009 has been confirmed in pigs in many other countries around the world including Argentina,  Australia Canada, China Eire, Finland, Northern Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Iceland, Ireland, Taiwan and  the USA.
  2. Pigs are susceptible to influenza viruses and some strains of influenza viruses circulate widely in pigs throughout the world. These viruses are generically termed swine influenza and are considered endemic in most pig producing countries, including UK. In Europe, the influenza viruses commonly seen are ‘avian-like’ H1N1, H1N2 and H3N2.
  3. VLA sequencing has confirmed this virus is virtually identical to the strain currently circulating in humans and the virus has not undergone any genetic reassortment.
  4. H1N1 pandemic strain is widely circulating in the community and spread  into pigs is not an unexpected event given that it is widely known that  H1 human influenza strains can infect pigs. There is no evidence that pigs play any significant role in transmitting human influenza to people, and thus the main risk to people remains through transmission in the community from person to person spread.
  5. The evidence so far is that the A/H1N1pandemic virus in pigs has remained identical to the virus in humans.

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