Deadly African swine fever found in wild boar in Italy, regional government says

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Jan 7 (Reuters) – African swine fever, a deadly hog disease, has been found in a wild boar in Italy’s Piedmont region, the regional government said in a statement on Friday.

Tests confirmed the disease in a dead boar in Ovada, located about 120 km southwest of Milan in northern Italy, the statement said.

African swine fever is harmless to humans but often fatal to pigs, leading to financial losses for farmers. It originated in Africa before spreading to Europe and Asia and has killed hundreds of millions of pigs worldwide.

The discovery in Italy could be a blow to the country’s meat producers as governments often block imports of pork products from countries where the disease has been found as a way to prevent transmission.

China and other pork buyers banned imports of German pork in September 2020 after the first case was confirmed in wild animals in Germany.

The Piedmont regional government asked city mayors to stop hunting following the discovery. Wild boar can transmit the virus to other pigs.

The government also said it is raising its surveillance of wild boars and hog farms and increasing cleaning measures on farms as much as possible.

“As in the case of the (COVID-19) pandemic, the African swine fever emergency must also be addressed by appealing to everyone’s collaboration,” said Piedmont’s health deputy, Luigi Icardi, in the statement. “Piedmont health system is working alongside operators in the sector to prevent the circulation of the virus and protect swine farms.”

In China, the world’s biggest pork producer, African swine fever destroyed half the hog herd within a year of being detected there in 2018. Last year, Haiti and the Dominican Republic confirmed the first outbreaks in the Americas in nearly 40 years. (Reporting by Caroline Stauffer and Tom Polansek in Chicago and Joice Alves in London; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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