Gifu and five other prefectures with confirmed swine fever cases started vaccinating pigs at farms Friday to prevent the infectious disease from spreading further.

The move marked the first swine fever vaccinations in Japan since April 2006, when preventive vaccinations were discontinued.

It is uncertain, however, whether Japan can end the epidemic soon. Vaccines do not necessarily work for all pigs immediately.

Japan logged its first outbreak of swine fever in 26 years in the city of Gifu in September last year. Pigs and wild boars have tested positive for the disease in 11 prefectures, causing 146,000 pigs to be culled.

Gifu Prefecture plans to vaccinate some 52,000 pigs at 37 farms. On Friday, 122 people including veterinarians were divided into 30 groups to be sent to farms.

The first round of vaccinations will be completed in about a week. Gifu has lost 60 percent of its nearly 120,000 pigs since the outbreak.

“Vaccinations give us a sense of protection,” said a pig farmer preparing to resume business after being hit by an outbreak.

“I wish they had been done much earlier,” the farmer added.

In Aichi Prefecture, some 240,000 pigs will be vaccinated at 207 farms in 31 municipalities including Toyota. It is expected to take one month to complete the vaccinations.

Mie, Fukui, Ishikawa and Toyama prefectures also started vaccinating pigs Friday.

Vaccinations will also start on Saturday at the earliest in Nagano, Gunma, Shiga and Saitama prefectures, where vaccinations are recommended due to a high risk of the disease. Shizuoka Prefecture plans to start vaccinations as soon as necessary procedures finish.

The disease poses no threat to humans.

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