All UK live pig and swine exports have been banned by the EU until the end of August, at least, after more than 12,000 pigs in the UK have been destroyed, in a bid to stop the spread of the highly contagious viral disease, Swine Fever.

As they continue to take action to control this latest outbreak of Swine Fever, the first in the UK for 14 years, officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food plan to meet with the EU in Brussels, to review a situation, they say can be contained.

Under EU law, pigs on farms affected with classic Swine Fever must be destroyed and over 100 ministry staff are now investigating the source of the outbreak, which began on a pig-breeding unit in Norfolk, eastern England.

Protection zones of 3km and even wider surveillance areas have now been placed around nursery units, supplied by the one in Norfolk. Pig farmers in the East Midlands and North Lincolnshire will also be concerned as news of a suspected outbreak in North Lincolnshire was announced by MAFF, yesterday.

Swine Fever poses no risk to humans and the two most common causes of infection are from direct pig to pig contact, following purchase of infected pigs, or the inadvertent feeding of meat or meat products, derived from infected pigs.

But, Swine Fever is a notifiable disease and farmers are reminded to report any suspicions of the disease to their vet.

The most common clinical signs of Swine Fever include:

Lethargy and loss of appetite.
High temperature.
Pigs commonly huddle or lie in heaps.
Constipation followed by scour - this does not respond to treatment.
Loss of condition.
Discoloration of skin, especially ears, limbs, tail and snout.
High mortality - losses in the region of 50% have been experienced on some of the farms in the current outbreak.
Coughing and pneumonia. Often conjunctivitis.
Weakness with staggering in-coordinated hindleg action and lameness.
Poor pigs at birth with subsequent high mortality.
Increased returns, stillbirths and mummified pigs (seen later in infection).
Congenital tremors.

The more dramatic signs in pigs that do not die include: runting, chronic scour and low growth rates.


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