News comes after woman attacked by wild boar in Rome.
A case of African Swine Fever (ASF) has been detected among Rome's wild boar population in what is the first of its kind outside the area of northern Italy where an outbreak occurred earlier this year.
The highly contagious disease - which is fatal to pigs and wild hogs but not transmitted to humans - was detected in the 740-hectare Insugherata nature reserve in the northern fringes of the capital.
Tests carried out on the carcass of the wild boar confirmed that it had died of ASF, leading health authorities to seal off the affected area.
The Lazio region has activated a task force and launched a toll-free number - 803555 - to report any findings of other wild boar carcasses in Rome.
The video that everyone is talking about in #Rome this week: a dozen wild boar walking calmly through traffic on Via Trionfale. #cinghiali pic.twitter.com/ZrLfK49lOZ
— Wanted in Rome (@wantedinrome) September 22, 2021
Ettore Prandini, president of Italian farming organisation Coldiretti, has called for "immediate action to contain the population of wild boar that have invaded the countryside and cities, including the capital, causing economic damage for breeders and risks for the safety of citizens".
Coldiretti estimates there are 2.3 million wild boar in Italy, with around 20,000 of the tusked animals living in the province of Rome.
The case of ASF in Rome has led to nationwide concerns in the pork industry over the risk of the disease spreading to other regions and has triggered renewed calls for authorities to cull the wild boar population.
ASF originated in Africa before spreading to Europe and Asia, leading to the deaths of hundreds of millions of pigs worldwide and causing considerable financial losses to the farming sector.
The disease was detected in Italy in early January after tests were carried out on a dead wild boar in Ovada, about 120 km southwest of Milan, Reuters reported.
News of the first case of ASF in Rome follows a recent incident in which a woman was attacked by a wild boar in the Balduina district in the north of the capital.
The woman, 44, was taking rubbish to the bins on the street at night when she was chased and jumped on by a large sow, with seven piglets in tow.
"If it had not been for my dog defending me I don't know what would have happened", she told newspaper La Repubblica, paying tribute also to a passing motorist who came to her aid.
While dramatic, this is far from the first such incident involving the animals which can be extremely dangerous to humans if approached when there are young cinghiali present.
The wild hogs have also caused multiple road accidents at night, posing particular risks for motorcyclists.
The animals have shown up outside hospitals and at school gates, leading some Roman neighbourhoods to impose curfews for safety reasons.
Last summer the animals were even photographed outside Italy's foreign ministry near the city's Stadio Olimpico.
Once confined to nature reserves such as Insugherata, in recent years cinghiali have discovered that it is easier to rifle through the city's trash than go foraging for food in the woods.
"The people of Rome are being held hostage by wild boar," David Granieri, head of the Lazio region's agricultural association, told news agency ANSA recently.
The question of who exactly is in charge of Rome's wild boar is complex, with the city and the Lazio region both pointing the finger at each other.
There are multiple agencies involved, complicated further by the animals moving from nature reserves between public and privately-owned land.
The case of ASF and its associated risks may however spur authorities into tackling a situation which many Rome residents believe is out of control.
Photo La Repubblica