April 23, 2024

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African Swine Fever Spreads in South Korea: Heightening Vigilance in Japan

African Swine Fever Spreads in South Korea: Heightening Vigilance in Japan

African Swine Fever Spreads in South Korea: Heightening Vigilance in Japan

“African Swine Fever, with an almost 100% fatality rate among pigs, is rapidly spreading in South Korea, prompting heightened vigilance at ports. The contagious disease, which has not been reported in Japan, has spread from Kyushu, the pig farming hub of Japan, to Busan, South Korea, about 50 kilometers from Tsushima, Nagasaki, since the beginning of 2024. With no effective vaccine available, there are fears of devastating consequences if the infection spreads further. Consequently, strict measures are being taken at ports and other entry points in Japan to prevent its introduction.

African Swine Fever Spreads in South Korea: Heightening Vigilance in Japan

The ASF virus can remain infectious for more than 110 days in frozen pork and over 300 days in cured ham. Since the first case of ASF was reported in North Korea in 2019, the infection has spread southward, with the first case in wild boars confirmed in Busan in December 2023. Even in 2024, there have been 15 confirmed cases of wild boar infection in mountains only 5 kilometers away from ports with regular passenger services.

The virus can be transported over long distances by attaching to the soles of shoes, cars, or bicycle tires. Ports in Japan that connect to Busan, including Hakata, Osaka, Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture, and Tsushima, are taking precautions such as installing disinfection mats for shoes and setting up boards to inform travelers about the ASF outbreak.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries is on high alert due to the highly infectious and deadly nature of ASF. The virus is transmitted through bodily fluids and excrement of infected pigs, causing symptoms such as fever, subcutaneous bleeding, and bloody diarrhea, with an almost 100% fatality rate. While there is a vaccine for Classical Swine Fever (CSF), another pig disease present in Japan, ASF is caused by a different virus and is more contagious. There is no vaccine for ASF, and it does not infect humans.

African Swine Fever was first observed in pigs in Africa in the early 1900s and spread to Europe and other regions in the late 20th century. In 2018, it was first confirmed in Asia in China, the world’s largest pork producer. By 2019, deaths and culls had reduced China’s pig population by about 40%, leading to more than a doubling of pork prices. The disease has since spread to surrounding countries, with Japan and Taiwan being the only countries in East Asia where no infections have been confirmed.

If ASF is confirmed in Japan, measures will include searching for other dead animals within a radius of about 3 kilometers from the infected site and, if necessary, setting up electric fences or traps to prevent further spread. In the case of infection on a farm, not only the affected animals but also other pigs within a certain radius may be culled as a precaution.

With the easing of the COVID-19 pandemic and increased international travel, there is growing concern in Kyushu, a major pig farming region where about 2.8 million pigs, accounting for 30% of the country’s total, are raised.

Naoki Osako, president of Asahi Farm in Satsuma, Kagoshima Prefecture, expressed his concern, stating that it is only a matter of time before ASF enters Japan. He emphasized the importance of preventive measures, such as having employees shower before entering the farm and restricting access to outsiders.”

African Swine Fever Spreads in South Korea: Heightening Vigilance in Japan

(source:internet, reference only)

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