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A veterinarian from the Okinawa prefectural government gives classical swine fever vaccinations to pigs at a farm in the Kunigami district of Okinawa, March 6, 2020.
A veterinarian from the Okinawa prefectural government gives classical swine fever vaccinations to pigs at a farm in the Kunigami district of Okinawa, March 6, 2020. (Okinawa Prefecture)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — As Okinawa prefecture works to combat the coronavirus pandemic, it appears to have won the fight against another highly infectious disease: classical swine fever.

Also known as hog cholera, the viral disease, highly contagious and fatal to pigs, was discovered on the island prefecture Jan. 8 when an Uruma city farmer reported pig deaths due to an unknown respiratory ailment, officials said at the time.

Since then, nine other farms have been infected and 12,381 pigs destroyed, a prefectural government spokesman said Thursday. Some government officials in Japan customarily speak on condition of anonymity. As with the coronavirus, officials imposed travel restrictions on farmers transporting pigs to stem the spread.

The last outbreak of the disease was reported at an Uruma city farm on March 12, resulting in the deaths of 440 pigs, the spokesman said. All travel restrictions for pigs on Okinawa were lifted April 14.

“We had to vaccinate over 170,000 pigs on the mainland of Okinawa and we will continue to vaccinate newborn piglets as well,” the spokesman said. “All the travel bans are lifted in Okinawa with no new cases since March.”

The hog cholera vaccine prevents the onset of symptoms in pigs, but all a farm’s pigs must be destroyed if even one tests positive for the virus, per Japanese law, the spokesman said.

Classical swine fever was never a serious threat to public health on Okinawa; there has never been a reported case of it being transmitted to humans, Japanese officials said in January. However, pork is staple of Okinawan cuisine and its production integral to the island’s economy.

burke.matt@stripes.com Twitter: @MatthewMBurke1

ichihashi.aya@stripes.com Twitter: @AyaIchihashi

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