TOKYO – Japan on Thursday officially lost its status as a country free from classical swine fever as recognized by an intergovernmental organization, as it has failed to contain an outbreak that started two years ago.
The World Organization for Animal Health, also known as OIE, suspended Japan’s status on Sept. 3, 2018 after the country reported that pigs for fattening had been found dead in the central prefecture of Gifu.
According to the farm ministry, it marked the first reported case in Japan since 1992. The OIE in 2015 officially recognized the country as being free from the disease, also known as hog cholera.
In order to regain its status, Japan will have to ensure that there are no reported cases in the past 12 months and that no vaccinations for the disease are carried out during the same period.
Vaccinations against hog cholera began in Japan in October 2019 for the first time in 13 years.
A ministry official said it may take more than 10 years to eradicate the disease, considering the time Japan took last time.
The internationally recognized status is at times required for exporting pork to new markets.
To regain the status as soon as possible, the ministry has implemented stricter control measures for hog farms while also trying to develop new vaccines.
Hog cholera only affects pigs and wild boars but has a high fatality rate. Human health is not affected even if meat from an infected animal is consumed.