German pig farm may slaughter 4,000 pigs after finding case of swine fever

(Bloomberg) — Dagenheim Sausage & Pork in northern Germany will slaughter about 4,000 pigs after detecting a case of swine fever, the third case detected in the country this year, the government said Tuesday.

The nation is monitoring local cases after the farm in Ratzeburg had pigs die of swine fever, according to a statement from the Agriculture Ministry. The move was limited to animals and poses no risks to food safety, it said. The farm is linked to four other infected premises, it said.

Around 5,000 pigs will be culled in Ratzeburg and Pertel, Westphalia state and certain parts of Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate, according to the ministry. The infected farm is also part of several farms affected by the disease in a densely populated area near Karlsruhe, the ministry said.

The disease, which is widespread in Europe but rare in the U.S., led to more than 1 million animals to be culled in China in 2016, the most amount ever. Authorities across Europe are increasingly concerned about the spread of the virus as the area of the country that’s under surveillance expands. Swine fever affects piglets, young pigs and older pigs, spreading quickly from farm to farm, the ministry said. The infected animals that died at the St.Georges farm were younger pigs, it said.

This case isn’t the first case of the disease in the country this year. Three farms in Hesse state in September had cases and two in North Rhine-Westphalia and Braunschweig a month earlier were detected. So far, no humans or pigs have been infected, the ministry said.

The swine fever causes not only severe mortality but also skin lesions, pus and diarrhea, though diarrhea and vomiting are not common in the disease. Germany, the U.K. and countries in central and eastern Europe have been particularly vulnerable to the disease because pork-slaughtering plants and processing plants tend to be near hotspots.

The Swiss government has been preparing for the possible spread of the disease in the country after a human case of the disease was reported in the south of the country in early December. In the U.K., the number of farms closed to the public after pigs were infected rose to 70.

In addition to the virus-control measures, the German government is working to introduce biosecurity measures so that the outbreak isn’t repeated.

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