National

Swine fever vaccination plan cleared by farm ministry

JIJI, Kyodo

An agriculture ministry panel has approved preventive swine fever vaccinations for pigs being raised in prefectures with confirmed cases of the disease.

The proposal to revise the state’s disease prevention guidelines was presented Thursday by the animal hygiene subcommittee of the Council of Food, Agriculture and Rural Area Policies, which advises the farm minister.

After the revision, vaccinations could start this month in 10 prefectures.

Under the amended guidelines, areas with a high risk of swine fever spreading from wild boars to pigs will be designated as recommended vaccination zones. The decision to vaccinate will be made by the prefectures’ governors.

The vaccinations will be conducted after the ministry approves each prefecture’s plans, which will include where and when to conduct them and how much vaccine to use.

Of the 10 prefectures, Gifu, Aichi, Mie, Fukui, Saitama and Nagano experienced swine fever outbreaks starting from September last year. The remaining four — Gunma, Ishikawa, Toyama and Shiga — reported finding infected wild boars.

The Saitama Prefectural Government announced Friday that another outbreak had been confirmed in Honjo, adding that over 2,000 pigs will be culled on Monday.

The government is cautious about using vaccines due to fears that new cases won’t be able to be tracked because vaccinated pigs will become indistinguishable from infected ones. Rampant use of vaccines may lead to the disease spreading even further.

As a result, the ministry will not allow vaccinations in prefectures without outbreaks, such as Tochigi and Chiba, even if they request permits. The farm ministry will also revise its disease prevention guidelines for African swine fever, a similar disease.

Unlike for standard swine fever, there are no effective means to combat the African version, which has a mortality rate of close to 100 percent. The ministry will make genetic testing available at prefecture-run livestock hygiene service centers for early detection of the disease.

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