GIFU (Kyodo) -- A pig that died at a farm in central Japan's Gifu Prefecture was confirmed Sunday as having been infected by the swine fever virus, also known as hog cholera, which is contagious but does not affect humans.
While hog cholera is endemic in Asia, it is the first time an infection has been recorded in Japan since an outbreak in Kumamoto Prefecture in 1992 when five pigs were infected. Japan declared the virus eradicated in 2007.
Following the discovery in Gifu Prefecture, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries halted pork exports from Japan.
The disease affects only pigs and wild boars and has a high fatality rate. It does not affect humans, though, even if meat from an infected animal is consumed.
The farm ministry set up a task force to contain the outbreak.
The Gifu prefectural government said a pig suddenly died at the farm on Sept. 3.
While the animal did not test positive during a preliminary screening by the local government, further tests by the central government found on Sunday that the pig had indeed fallen victim to the disease.
About 80 more pigs have subsequently died and the remaining 610 pigs at the farm are being culled as part of measures to control the spread of the disease. The process is expected to finish by Wednesday.
It is likely to take at least three months for Japan to be declared clear of the disease. Exports can resume with the approval of countries that receive Japanese pork goods.
Japan's export value for farm, fisheries and food products stood at around 800 billion yen ($7.21 billion), of which pork only makes up 1 billion yen.