TOKYO/NAGOYA -- A single pig feed company supplied two central Japan farms hit by hog cholera outbreaks this year, the agriculture ministry and Aichi Prefectural Government said on Feb. 7.
The disease was confirmed at pig farms in Toyota and Tahara, Aichi Prefecture, on Feb. 6, following outbreaks at farms in neighboring Gifu Prefecture in late January. A farm hit by the virus in the city of Motosu, Gifu Prefecture, shared a feed supplier with one of the impacted farms in Tahara, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is investigating whether the company's truck could have spread the infection. Pig feces and other materials tainted with the virus may have stuck to the vehicle in Gifu before it headed to Aichi without being sufficiently sterilized.
Hog cholera allegedly spread on from Aichi to five other prefectures including Nagano, also in central Japan. It is crucial to figure out the connection between the Aichi and Gifu farms to identify the route of infection.
An infected wild boar was found in a mountainous area near the prefectural border between Aichi and Gifu. However, it is unlikely that the boar was the source of infection, as the animals generally keep to a 1 to 5 kilometer range. The Aichi farm is located several dozen kilometers away from the area where the infected boar was found.
National regulations require all those entering livestock farms to take preventative measures against spreading epidemic diseases, such as changing into new boots and washing vehicles. However, it is possible these precautions were not properly observed in the hog cholera cases. The agriculture ministry has said that further verification is necessary and it will investigate the outbreaks in detail.
Members of a ruling Liberal Democratic Party body for livestock safety policy raised a series of questions to agriculture ministry officials on Feb. 7 over why a farm in Toyota continued to ship out young pigs even after prefectural veterinary staff had noticed abnormalities in the farm's livestock. A ministry official said they are "looking into the matter," and will deal severely with any violations of the Act on Domestic Animal Infectious Diseases Control. The ministry is furthermore examining possible problems in how the disease danger was handled at the farms in five prefectures including Nagano and western Japan's Shiga that bought the young pigs.
(Japanese original by Akiko Kato, Business News Department, and Tatsuya Michinaga, Nagoya News Center)