National

Japan expands swine fever vaccinations to seven more prefectures

Kyodo

The government said Friday it will expand vaccinations of pigs against hog cholera to cover Tokyo and seven prefectures adjacent to the 12 prefectures with confirmed cases of the deadly virus.

The vaccinations may start later this month in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Niigata, Kyoto and Nara, and in February or later in Ibaraki, Tochigi and Chiba, the farm ministry said.

Vaccinations against hog cholera began in Japan in October for the first time in 13 years, more than a year after the country confirmed its first case of the disease in 26 years in Gifu Prefecture in September 2018.

Japan has struggled to contain the epidemic, which has seen a dozen prefectures conduct pig culls. Humans cannot contract the virus even if infected meat is consumed.

Hog cholera, or classical swine fever, is different from African swine fever, which has been spreading across other parts of Asia.

A dozen prefectures with confirmed cases, mostly in central Japan, have been designated as areas recommended for the vaccinations but neighboring prefectures have also called for inoculations.

The ministry initially limited vaccinations to the 12 prefectures due to low stocks of vaccines but decided to expand the areas after manufacturers boosted production to make inoculations available for an additional 2.5 million pigs by the end of the year.

Farm minister Taku Eto told a news conference Friday the ministry will urge pig keepers to fully conduct hygienic management, saying vaccinations are not a panacea for preventing infections.