Saeima approves emergency measures to tackle African swine fever

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The Latvian parliament or Saeima approved Agriculture Ministry proposals to grant emergency status to parts of the eastern Latgale district Thursday as efforts continue to contain an outbreak of African swine fever among pigs.

Saeima voted in favour of the measure by 72 votes to 0.

Agriculture Minister Janis Duklavs told lawmakers appropriate measures were already in place but that the extra powers were needed to allow more detailed inspections of livestock and to ensure farmers could be quickly compensated for culled animals.

“The disease has been carried across the border into Latvia but we can't say if it was on the feet of humans or pigs,” Duklavs said.

Emergency measures are in place within a 40-kilometre wide quarantine zone encompassing around 5,000 square kilometres in the south-east of the country where veterinary inspectors are testing animals and carrying out culls where necessary.

Measures being taken are following European Union guidelines and similar to those employed in previous outbreaks in Lithuania and Poland.

Failure to control the disease would have serious consequences for the European Union, which has so far managed to prevent the disease becoming endemic, unlike Russia and Belarus.

The disease was first detected on June 26 when three wild boar were found dead by border guards near the Belarus border.

Since then the State Food and Veterinary Service has discovered one more wild boar with the virus in addition to four domestic pigs at small farms.

African swine fever is harmless to humans but lethal to pigs and has no known cure, posing a grave threat to commercial pig farms.

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