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Italy hit by pork export bans over African swine fever

Several nations announce ban on pig meat from Italy.

Italy faces restrictions and bans on exporting pork and cured meats to a number of countries after the discovery of new cases of African swine fever, or ASF, in wild boar in the north Italian region of Piemonte.

China, Japan, Taiwan and Kuwait have blocked purchases of pork products from Italy, reports Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, while neighbouring Switzerland has introduced restrictions.

The news was announced on Wednesday by Confagricoltura, the confederation of Italian agriculture, which convened to take stock of the situation and assess measures being adopted at an international level.

Last year, exports from Italy's pig sector amounted to about €1.5 billion, with €500 million worth of sales destined for non-EU markets, reports Il Sole 24 Ore.

Confagricoltura president Massimiliano Giansanti called for the "quick and effective" implementation of "surveillance and biosecurity measures for the protection of farms" as part of efforts to "limit the damage as much as possible."

ASF is a viral haemorrhagic disease that can rip through pig herds, usually killing an animal within 10 days, causing considerable financial losses to farms and upsetting the supply chain.

The disease is highly contagious among pigs and wild boar however it is not transmitted to humans.

ASF originated in Africa before spreading to Europe and Asia and has led to the deaths of hundreds of millions of pigs worldwide.

The disease was detected in Italy in early January after tests were carried out on a dead boar in Ovada, about 120 km southwest of Milan, Reuters reported.

The regional goverment of Piemonte moved to introduce protocols aimed at preventing the spread of the virus which can be transmitted to pigs from wild boar.

The latest development comes amid calls to deal with Italy's growing wild boar population which continues to make inroads into urban life, notably in Rome where the hogs' forays into town often make international headlines.

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