Swine fever: Rome bans picnics and seals off bins in wild boar ‘red zone’

Rome wild boar ‘red zone’ to contain swine fever.

Health authorities in the Lazio region around Rome on Saturday moved to contain the potential spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) among the city's wild boar population.

The containment measures concern a large 'red zone' area of the capital in an attempt to stem the highly contagious viral disease which is fatal to pigs and wild hogs but not transmitted to humans.

The ordinance, which comes after a case of swine fever was detected in a dead wild boar in the city's northern Insugherata nature reserve, includes a ban on picnics and the fencing off of bins in the affected area which comprises districts in north and north-west Rome, reaching almost to Vatican City.

It is also forbidden to feed, approach or disturb wild boar in the red zone, while shoes must be disinfected when leaving farmland or nature reserves in the area.

The presence of wild boar carcasses or wild boars that are dying can be reported to the 24-hour toll free number - 803555 - as regional authorities undertake a "census" of all pigs kept on farms in the area, as well as those kept as pets.

The city is obliged to ensure that bins - a regular source of food for the urbanised wild boars - are sealed off or positioned in a way as to impede access for the animals which are called cinghiali in Italian.

Veterinary authorities have increased the surveillance of wild boar, including the testing of dead or dying animals, in the red zone which is surrounded by a larger 'zona di attenzione' north and west of Rome.

Italy's health minister Roberto Speranza said that the situation would receive "maximum attention" from the government, reports Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, amid growing calls for the wild boar population to be culled.

"I respect the sensitivities of animal rights activists and environmentalists, but we are facing an emergency and it must be addressed with emergency measures", said health undersecretary Andrea Costa who told state broadcaster RAI that "a slaughtering plan" was being discussed to "reduce wild boar numbers".

The news comes days after a woman in a north Rome neighbourhood was attacked by wild boar whose increasingly brazen presence on the city's streets makes headlines regularly.

Italian farming organisation Coldiretti estimates that Italy has 2.3 million wild boar, around 20,000 of which are living in the province of Rome.

Details of the swine fever containment measures and a map of the red zone are published on the Regione Lazio website. Photo ANSA.

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Swine fever: Rome bans picnics and seals off bins in wild boar ‘red zone’

Via Paolo Emilio Castagnola, 00135 Roma RM, Italy