Government health officials have reported an outbreak of swine fever in Japan that has spread over five prefectures, including Osaka. So far, over 6600 pigs have been culled in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.
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In a statement, one agricultural ministry official stated that whilst China has been fighting a deadly strain of African swine fever, the outbreak in Japan is a different strain.
The country has not faced a swine fever outbreak in 26 years. It is thought that the outbreak began at the Gifu prefecture last September. Officials have confirmed that pigs within the Aichi prefecture (which borders the Gifu prefecture) were infected with swine fever and that the disease has now spread to Osaka, Shiga, and Nagano.
In total, around 15,000 pigs from infected farms will need to be culled in order to stem the spread of the virus, say officials.
At a recent press conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said:
In order to prevent the disease from spreading further, the government will do its utmost by having the agriculture ministry and relevant local authorities cooperate for speedy and thorough implementation of quarantine measures.”
The authorities have set up a special task force in Gifu Prefecture to deal with the epidemic. Agriculture Minister Takamori Yoshikawa added, “We are facing an extremely serious situation,” in an earlier meeting at his ministry.
Importantly, swine fever, which can kill pigs and boars, is not infectious for humans. Suga said, “We also ask relevant parties to start an information campaign so that consumers will not be worried.”
The World Organization for Animal Health has now revoked Japan’s status as a classic swine fever free country since the outbreak last September.