Japan struggles to contain spread of swine fever

Government ministers warn the situation is extremely serious

15,000 pigs at affected farms are to be culled

15,000 pigs at affected farms are to be culled (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China is not the only country currently struggling with a swine fever outbreak; the viral epidemic continues to escalate throughout Japan.

Authorities in several Japanese prefectures announced Wednesday they were finding it difficult to contain the spread of swine fever, reports Japan Times. “We are facing an extremely serious situation,” the newspaper quotes agriculture minister Takamori Yoshikawa.

Japan’s first case was reported in September last year. Authorities believe the outbreak was triggered by a traveler bringing contaminated pork dumplings into the country.

Around 15,000 pigs in affected farms across Japan are now to be culled, Japan Times reports.

The virus in questions is Classical swine fever, also known as hog cholera—a different strain to the African swine fever virus currently decimating China’s pork industry.

Japan Times writes 130 hogs and wild boars in the country’s Gifu and Aichi prefectures have tested positive for the disease, shattering experts’ expectations. It was believed because the animals do not live in large herds, the infection would not easily spread.

“In order to prevent the disease from spreading further, the government will do its utmost by having the agriculture ministry and relevant local authorities cooperate for speedy and thorough implementation of quarantine measures,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, according to Reuters.

The disease has not hit Taiwan. It was announced last week the government has again stepped up preventative measures by installing new X-ray equipment in airports and dividing arriving passengers by place of origin.

Anyone attempting to bring pork into the country faces a fine of NT$200,000 (US$6,497) with repeat offenders liable to a NT$1 million punishment. Visitors who refuse to pay the fine are denied entry.