A man from Ontario, Canada, has been infected with an H1N1 variant influenza virus after having had close contact with pigs, the province's chief medical officer of health said on Tuesday.

H1N1 is a swine flu virus responsible for a pandemic that broke out in 2009, starting in the United States and Mexico and spreading around the world in six weeks.

An influenza virus that normally circulates in animals is referred to as a variant virus when it infects humans, and is labeled H1N1v in that case, the officer, Arlene King, said.

"I would like to reassure Ontarians that this variant influenza virus rarely spreads from animals to humans. Subsequent human-to-human transmission is also rare," she said in a statement.

"I would also like to stress that this is not a food safety issue; the consumption of properly cooked pork continues to be safe. Proper cooking of meats, including pork, kills all bacteria and viruses."

The adult male patient is being treated and closely monitored in a hospital in southwestern Ontario.

"The identification of this case is the result of the strength of our current surveillance system here in Ontario. It is not an unexpected occurrence and there have been a number of human infections with variant influenza viruses in the United States over the past year," she said. (Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by James Dalgleish)