• Kyodo

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The agriculture ministry said Tuesday more than 5,000 pigs have died around Japan after being infected with a deadly virus.

The porcine epidemic diarrhea virus — which doesn’t affect humans — was confirmed in Japan last year for the first time in seven years. If the epidemic spreads, it could cause a spike in pork prices, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry said.

The disease, which is more likely to kill piglets than adult pigs, was confirmed last October in Okinawa Prefecture.

So far, 28,119 pigs in Kagoshima Prefecture, 3,132 in Miyazaki, 406 in Ibaraki and 233 in Okinawa have been confirmed infected.

The disease, which spreads via contact with manure and other channels, was found in Europe for the first time in the 1970s. The first case in Japan was confirmed in the 1980s. In 1996, around half of the 80,000 pigs infected in Japan died.

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