National

Japan plans wider pig culls if African swine fever discovered

JIJI

In the event a pig with African swine fever (ASF) is found at a farm, all pigs at farms within up to 3 kilometers of the affected facility could be culled in order to prevent the highly pathogenic disease from spreading, agriculture ministry sources said Wednesday.

A bill to revise the law on controlling infectious diseases in domestic animals that would enable preventive culling is slated to be submitted to the Diet soon, with its enactment expected by the end of the month.

Right after the revised law is put into effect in early February, the ministry will amend its ASF prevention guidelines to allow the preventive culling at farms within a 3-kilometer radius of an affected farm, instead of the current range of a 500-meter radius, the sources said.

There is no effective vaccine for ASF, which has not been detected in Japan. The disease is more infectious than classical swine fever, which has already been confirmed in many areas of the country.

Preventive culling is a major step toward controlling the spread of ASF, but it could infringe on the property rights of pig farmers.

Consequently, the ministry therefore will initially conduct preventive culling in limited areas if ASF infection is discovered and then consider expanding the areas depending on how far the disease is spreading, the sources said.

The ministry decided the new range of areas where preventive culling will be carried out based on a measure taken by South Korea.

South Korea culled farmed pigs in areas 3 kilometers from a farm where ASF infection was confirmed last September. No new case of infection has been found at pig farms in the country since mid-October.

The range of areas for preventive culling in case a wild boar with ASF is found in Japan will be decided after opinions are collected from experts based on such factors as the levels of hygiene control at pig farms in the area, the sources said.

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