Japan will likely add Gunma to the list of pig-vaccination areas following the confirmation of swine fever in two wild boars in the prefecture, the farm ministry said Friday.
The government will seek expert opinions on vaccination before the governor makes a final decision. Gunma’s addition would bring the number of prefectures flagged for vaccinations to 10. The disease is also known as hog cholera.
Japan has been struggling to stop the outbreak, which has led to the culling of over 140,000 pigs over a year.
No pigs in Gunma have been confirmed to be infected so far, but there is concern that boar infections could spread, significantly impacting the nation’s fourth-largest pork producer.
Around 630,000 pigs were being raised in Gunma Prefecture as of February, according to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry.
The ministry has already flagged Aichi, Fukui, Gifu, Ishikawa, Mie, Nagano, Saitama, Shiga and Toyama prefectures for vaccination.
Chiba and Shizuoka have also requested vaccination, but Eto said whether to inoculate pigs in those prefectures will depend on the availability of vaccines.
The ministry has been cautious about vaccinations because they could potentially impact pork exports, but it changed its mind last month and is revising its guidelines.
On Friday, Cabinet members reaffirmed that government policy will include strengthening measures against the epidemic through vaccinations and increased catches of wild boars.
Swine fever only affects pigs and wild boars and has a high fatality rate. It does not affect humans, even if meat from an infected animal is consumed.