An Irishwoman who is believed to have picked up swine flu on a trip to New York was being treated with antiviral medications in her home last night. The woman from the east of the country tested positive for swine flu yesterday, becoming the second person in the Republic to contract the illness which the World Health Organisation feared could turn into a global pandemic.

A spokesperson for the Health Service Executive (HSE) said last night the woman had taken two flights. The first was from New York to a European city. She then took a second flight home.

She said all contacts were being traced and all passengers on the flight from New York are expected to be identified. A number of people seated near the woman on the flight to Ireland are also expected to be informed but it is as yet unclear whether they are to be offered antiviral treatment as a precaution.

“All necessary protocols are being followed,” said the spokesperson. The HSE has not released details of the airline or flight number, unlike health authorities in other countries which have been much more open about such information when they are issuing alerts to the public.

The woman is recovering at home and is “clinically well”, the Department of Health said.