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The BBC's Richard Bilton
The last thing farmers need is a disease that wipes out herds
 real 56k

Chief Veterinary Officer, Jim Scudamore
"The only way to deal with swine fever is to slaughter the pigs affected"
 real 28k

Thursday, 10 August, 2000, 03:26 GMT 04:26 UK
Farms to slaughter infected pigs
A pig in a pen
Swine fever is highly contagious
More than 6,000 pigs will have to be slaughtered after swine fever was detected on three farms.

The original outbreak of the deadly disease, which is harmless to humans, has been traced to a Norfolk farm which supplied pigs to the two other farms.

On Wednesday a Suffolk farm learnt it would have to slaughter 3,500 pigs after the disease was diagnosed.

Two other farms in Essex and Norfolk have since had restriction orders placed on them by the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (Maff).

They are the first known case of the highly contagious disease in the UK for 14 years.

Andrew Saunders, managing director of British Quality Pigs (BQP) which owns the affected Suffolk farm, said staff had become concerned on Friday about the health of some of the pigs.

Highly contagious

Tests by Maff confirmed it was classic swine fever.

"Both BQP and Maff are now working closely together to investigate this outbreak and in particular to trace its source," he said.

James Black, vice-chairman of the National Pig Association said it was terrible news that the disease had returned after a 14-year absence.

"We will do all we can to make sure all producers are kept informed of the latest developments, and to give the best advice we can in dealing with this situation," he said.

Swine fever is a highly infectious viral disease which is lethal to pigs but harmless to humans.

It can be transmitted directly from animal to animal and through feeding pigs waste food containing infected meat.

It can also be passed on by transporting pigs in contaminated vehicles.

The symptoms of swine fever in pigs are loss of appetite and high temperature.

The pigs may also have red or purple areas of discoloration on the skin.

Under EU law pigs on farms affected with classic swine fever must be destroyed.

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See also:

22 Jan 98 | Europe
German pig imports banned
21 Jan 98 | World
Pig cull to fight swine fever
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