Swine fever is more of an economic problem than a health problem

Epizootics have long been used in trade wars. The presence of African swine fever, in addition to causing direct damage due to animal deaths, indirectly affects the economy. In the past, the United States took advantage of this to prevent the export of completely safe Italian products.” So history tells us how what is happening today, especially in Rome, is not a scientific novelty, but on the contrary, explains Nicolas Decaro, full professor of animal infectious diseases and director of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at Bari University, Panorama.

The number of swine fever cases in the national territory has risen to about 120. The last 6 were recorded in the Lazio region where the high concentration of waste in the suburbs has attracted many samples that may be excluded to avoid the spread of infection. The news has shaken animal welfare organizations that will do everything in their power to prevent the killing of wild boars. But not only in Rome, the waste emergency has attracted thousands of wild boars, so swine fever can be an irreplaceable excuse to justify their killing.

Is swine fever dangerous?

“African swine fever for pigs and wild boars is very dangerous because it is fatal. It does nothing to humans because we eat thousands of viruses in meat and other foods every day, but the human body is always resistant to viruses from other animals, including African swine fever. However, it must be said that a person can act as a carrier of the virus and carry it passively. ”

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How did you get to Italy?

“The virus that causes this disease is not indigenous but spread among pigs in Africa probably in the nineteenth century. It arrived in Europe in the 1950s through contaminated pork products but we are talking about genotype 1. Whereas in 2007 a new genotype (2) arrived from Africa in Georgia (Russia) always through pork products. It continued from the Caucasus eastward to China and raised meat prices by 30% due to the slaughter of millions of Chinese pigs. In Italy, between Piedmont, Liguria and Lazio, today we have reached more than 120 cases, and it is likely that the infection occurred through the same methods, that is, contamination of abandoned foods eaten by wild boars. ”

What are the economic repercussions?

Epizootics are always used in trade wars. The presence of African swine fever, in addition to causing direct damage to the mortality of infected animals by killing healthy animals, indirectly affects the economy by causing a ban on the export of pig sector products. In fact, in the past, the United States took advantage of Italy’s swine fever to prevent the export of completely safe products such as raw pork and mortadella, which are cooked sausages. The virus does not survive cooking and will be able to overcook pork. Thus, an excuse to prevent exports even though they are safe products in order to sell their poor quality products better than the typical products of our country.”

What do you think about the planned slaughter of wild boars?
The economic problems are great and the population underestimates this issue. I understand that animal rights movements are at the forefront of the defense of wild boars but swine fever, in addition to being fatal to infected animals, indirectly causes farmed pigs to die when they reach an area. In fact, even if the virus infected a few samples, it was still necessary to kill all the farms involved immediately. Moreover, it should be added that if the virus is to be confined to wild boars, it is still necessary in the affected area to proceed with the scheduled slaughter of domestic pigs. National and European legislation requires it.”
Why is the abandonment of wild boars necessary and how is it done?
Reducing wild boar numbers is essential to reduce the number of hosts that the swine fever virus will find and thus facilitate the subsequent eradication of the disease to prevent its spread to pig farms. There are several ways to reduce wild boar populations. Through self-control (selective killing) with people trained to kill wild boars. If the dead were not taken by the hunter, they would have to be cremated, which meant a very high cost. Or you can opt for captivity and subsequent slaughter but the regions are in crisis because they need special processing plants that not many have. Obviously no one wants to kill wild boars but at the moment this is an indispensable measure to contain the epidemic. It must also be said that the wild boars reintroduced in Italy with the resettlement scheme are particularly prolific and tend to be concentrated in places where there is an abundance of food; They also eat rubbish, so they go to places where there is a lot of rubbish on the streets such as the outskirts of Rome and many Italian municipalities.”

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