Swine fever: Italy to kill 1,000 pigs and 400 wild boar in Rome area

Fears for Italy's food sector after swine fever detected in pigs on farm near Rome.

About 1,000 pigs are to be slaughtered in the Lazio region after two pigs tested positive for African swine fever (ASF) on a small family farm in the Rome area.

The two infected pigs were killed immediately, along with seven others on the farm, as veterinary authorities prepare to slaughter all pigs within a 10-km radius of the site, an estimated 1,000 animals.

Angelo Ferrari, the government's special commissioner in charge of tackling swine fever, has also ordered the culling of "at least" 400 wild boar in the Lazio region around Rome, reports state broadcaster RAI.

In early May swine fever was detected in wild boar in the city's northern Insugherata nature reserve, prompting authorities to ban picnics and seal off bins in a "red zone", covering a large area of north and north-west Rome.

The cull, scheduled to take place within 30 days, will see 200 wild boar killed in the "protected regional areas" and 200 killed "outside these areas", reports news agency ANSA.

The city's Grande Raccordo Anulare ringroad is also set to be fenced off in the coming days, according to RAI.

Swine fever, a highly contagious viral disease, is fatal to pigs and wild hogs but is not transmitted to humans.

Italian farmers have long called for the culling of wild boar whose population in the Rome area has risen to more than 20,000.

Italy's farming groups describe the passing of swine fever from wild boar to pigs as a "disaster that was waiting to happen", amid growing concerns for Italy's €8 billion pork sector which employs around 50,000 people.

The detection of swine fever in Rome follows an isolated outbreak of the disease earlier this year in the northwest Italian regions of Liguria and Piemonte where containment measures are also underway.

However, unlike Lazio, the cases of swine fever in Liguria and Piemonte have so far only affected wild boar - 144 cases according to the last update - and not pigs.