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Swine flu spreads in Japan; gov't warns of 'extremely serious' phase

09 February 2019

Members of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) undergo a quarantine operation at a hog farm after an outbreak of swine fever was detected, in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo February 6, 2019.

The government held a Cabinet meeting Wednesday to discuss rapid responses with officials from the prefectures.

Hog cholera was detected at a farm in the city of Gifu in September, the first such discovery in Japan since 1992, and has been found in over 100 wild boars in both Gifu and Aichi prefectures. It is thought that the outbreak began at the Gifu prefecture last September.

They said the number of pigs to be culled and buried at affected farms is expected to reach around 15,000.

But no symptoms suspected of hog cholera were found among pigs at the facility after the officials measured their body temperature and tested their blood.

The farm shipped pigs to farms in other prefectures, which also tested positive for the virus. There are around 700 hogs at the farm, according to the prefecture.

Questions have been raised over government responses to the problem.

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Importantly, swine fever, which can kill pigs and boars, is not infectious for humans.

Government health officials have reported an outbreak of swine fever in Japan that has spread over five prefectures, including Osaka. The ministry has not detected the virus in Mie and the prefecture's government said that all of its tests on hogs from the farm in Toyota were negative. Detailed tests by the state government confirmed the infection on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Japanese authorities are anxious that a more virulent form of pig disease spreading in China may enter Japan with an increasing number of visitors from the country during the Lunar New Year holidays through mid-February.

African swine fever has a high death rate, and no vaccine or treatment is available.

But they also said they can not deny the possibility that the delay in their response may have resulted in the further spread of the disease, so they will review what happened and consider revising the inspection procedures.

Since previous year, Japanese immigration and quarantine authorities counted eight cases of items tainted with African swine fever viruses prevented from entering Japan. They also deployed Chinese interpreters to warn tourists that bringing in pork products into Japan is prohibited in principle.

Swine flu spreads in Japan; gov't warns of 'extremely serious' phase