Country-wide calls to swine fever hotline

A telephone hotline set up as part of efforts to combat the spread of African swine fever in border areas in the south-east of Latvia is receiving calls from people across the whole country, veterinary inspector Tatiana Ribakova told Latvian Radio on Monday.

Since it was set up on July 9, the hotline has been receiving an average of two calls per hour, Ribakova said, many of them from people worried if it is safe to visit the affected area for tourism or recreation purposes.

"We get many calls from people who want to go to that part of Latgale for recreation but who want to know what restrictions there are on their freedom to move around or what items they can bring in and out. Lots want to know about road closures. Of course some roads are closed, but you can still move around very easily,” Ribakova said.

Visitors to the area should be prepared for the possibility of being stopped and checked under emergency laws that are in place in the district, she added.

As previously reported, on June 26, border guards discovered three dead wild boar. Tests revealed that two of them had died from African swine fever, a highly contagious and deadly disease among pigs with no cure but which is harmless to humans.

Since then the disease has also been detected in other wild boar and a handful of domestic pigs who were immediately culled.

It was the first time African swine fever has been discovered on Latvian territory and emergency measures including a 40-kilometer-wide quarantine zone, restrictions on movement of animals and intensive inspections were swiftly introduced. They are scheduled to remain in place until October 1.

While harmless to humans, African swine fever is deadly and highly contagious among pigs, providing a serious threat to the global pork industry.

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