Japan to Cull 15000 Pigs as Swine Fever Spreads

Local government hygiene and agricultural workers in protective gear inspect a hog farm where a swine cholera case has occurred in Kagamihara

Local government hygiene and agricultural workers in protective gear inspect a hog farm where a swine cholera case has occurred in Kagamihara

Spilling over from farms in Gifu, the hog cholera virus was newly detected by prefectural and local authorities at farms in neighboring Aichi as well as in Osaka, Shiga, and Nagano prefectures.

The government held a Cabinet meeting Wednesday to discuss rapid responses with officials from the prefectures. It is thought that the outbreak began at the Gifu prefecture last September. So far, over 6600 pigs have been culled in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

The farm in Toyota shipped pigs to six facilities in Nagano, Gifu, Aichi, Mie, Shiga and Osaka prefecture since January but the ministry has not detected the virus in Mie. There are around 700 hogs at the farm, according to the prefecture. However, the local body stopped short of asking the farm to return the truck with the pigs that left for Miyada. The ministry has not detected the virus in Mie and the prefecture's government said that all of its tests on hogs from the farm in Toyota were negative.

The prefectural authorities defended their initial response, saying there were no signs of swine fever infections, such as a large number of pig deaths, although some miscarriages were observed.

A government epidemiologic research team suspects that the series of infections was caused by food tainted with the hog cholera virus brought into Japan by those who had traveled overseas.

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The national government recommended that the authority of Gifu Prefecture where the first case of infection was found in September use traps to capture wild boars and set up fences to prevent wild boars from spreading the hog cholera virus.

The country has not faced a swine fever outbreak in 26 years. It is hard to contain as its viruses spread through mites.

But they also said they can not deny the possibility that the delay in their response may have resulted in the further spread of the disease, so they will review what happened and consider revising the inspection procedures.

Japanese authorities are battling to contain swine flu after the virus was detected at multiple sites in central Japan. The number of positive cases since then has nearly doubled, according to the government's latest figures. They also deployed Chinese interpreters to warn tourists that bringing in pork products into Japan is prohibited in principle.

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