A pig farm worker was the first man in Britain to die from a rare bacteria carried by the animals he was caring for, it emerged yesterday.

Jackie Forrest, 30, is thought to have inhaled the Streptococcus suis bug, which causes a meningitis-type illness in pigs.

Mr Forrest had worked foreight weeks at Brecks Farm in Swillington, West Yorkshire, when he suddenly fell ill and died last August. An inquest into the tragedy on Monday is expected to be told that Mr Forrest's immune system was unable to combat the illness after the removal of his spleen following an car accident.

The labourer, from Kippax, Leeds, is thought to be only the fourth person in the world to have died from the bug.

Such is its rarity that doctors at Pontefract General Hospital, where Mr Forrest was taken for treatment, initially thought he had died from blood poisoning.

Tests by toxicology specialists have now shown he died fromS suis.

The National Farmers' Union played down fears that the disease could be transmitted with fatal consequences to other people. An NFU spokesman said: "There's a feeling that the man had reduced immunity. We don't want it blowing up so people get worried about pigs generally."