Tokyo, Oct. 10 (Jiji Press)–A Japanese agriculture ministry expert panel approved on Thursday a plan to allow preventive vaccinations for swine fever to be given to pigs at farms in prefectures with confirmed cases.
The proposal to revise the state’s disease prevention guidelines was presented by the animal hygiene subcommittee of the Council of Food, Agriculture and Rural Area Policies, which advises the agriculture minister.
After the revision, vaccinations are seen starting as early as this month in 10 prefectures where pigs at farms and wild boars have tested positive for swine fever.
Under the amended guidelines, areas with high risk of swine fever transmission from wild boars to pigs will be designated as places where vaccinations are recommended. Whether to vaccinate will be decided by the governors of designated prefectures.
The designated prefectures would conduct vaccinations after gaining ministry approval of vaccination plans, including where and when the vaccinations would be given, and how much vaccine would be used.
Of the 10 prefectures, six saw a swine fever outbreak among pigs at farms in September last year or later, namely Gifu, Aichi, Mie, Fukui, Saitama and Nagano. In the remaining four–Gunma, Ishikawa, Toyama and Shiga–infected wild boars were found.
The government is cautious about the use of vaccines, due to fears that new cases of infections will not be tracked as vaccinated pigs will become indistinguishable from infected ones. Rampant use of vaccines may lead to the disease spreading even further.
As a result of such concerns, the ministry will not allow vaccinations in prefectures that have requested vaccination permits but have not seen cases of outbreaks, such as Tochigi and Chiba.
The agriculture ministry will also revise its disease prevention guidelines for African swine fever, a similar disease.
Unlike for standard swine fever, there are no effective means to combat the African version, which has a mortality rate of close to 100 pct. The ministry will make genetic testing available at prefecture-run livestock hygiene service centers for early detection of the disease.