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Further outbreak of swine fever in Germany

A series of outbreaks of the highly infectious classical swine fever (also known as 'hog cholera') virus has triggered further controls in the North-Rhine Westphalia region of Germany. The disease is infectious only to pigs and boar, but is highly contagious and often fatal. ...

A series of outbreaks of the highly infectious classical swine fever (also known as 'hog cholera') virus has triggered further controls in the North-Rhine Westphalia region of Germany. The disease is infectious only to pigs and boar, but is highly contagious and often fatal. The disease is highly uncommon in Europe, with the last recorded outbreaks in 2001 in the UK, Spain and Poland. Until then, the disease was thought to be eradicated. So contagious is the disease to swine that the 2001 outbreak in the UK, which perplexed experts because it derived from an Asian strain, was thought to have infected pigs via a processed pork product, such as a bacon sandwich or a pork pie. Later research implicated a meat-smuggling operation bringing cheap and unregulated meat into the UK from the far-East. EU Directive 2001/89/EC, developed during the 2001 outbreaks, has moved to contain any further spread of the disease, which first hit farms in the area in early March. Initially, a surveillance zone was erected around the outbreaks, involving the restricted movement of vehicles and people, and the export and slaughter of pigs was halted. Until April, there had been no further outbreaks, suggesting that the disease had been contained, and the movement of pigs within the surveillance area was permitted. However, a new outbreak in the town of Borken has prompted the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health to back a, 'Commission proposal to suspend the movement of all pigs and impose precautionary measures in the 'Regierungs-bezirke' Arnsberg, Münster and Düsseldorf, in North-Rhine Westphalia', according to a new communication. Precautionary measures have now been stepped up. 'A 3 km protection zone has been established around the outbreak area, and disease control measures, including culling and disinfection, are being applied by the German authorities in this zone.' Swine fever had hit the UK just prior to the catastrophic outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001. At the time, a leading expert, Professor Mac Johnston of the Royal Veterinary College, made an explicit link between swine fever and foot and mouth disease, claiming that both were introduced thanks to contaminated swill. 'Swine fever reminded us that people needed to pay heed to the regulations,' said Professor Johnston in 2001. 'It is a question of robust enforcement.' Today, the EU's framework programme continues to investigate the cause and spread of diseases such as swine fever. A recent tender called for research proposals into swine fever, foot and mouth and related diseases, including the development of vaccines.

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Germany