Swine flu reaches Europe as Belgium records first cases

Brussels has confirmed a small outbreak of African swine flu near the border with France. The disease has already hit farms in eastern Europe and China.

Belgium confirmed on Friday that African swine fever had reached western Europe after two boars died in the Etalle region near the French border.

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The disease has already struck farms in eastern Europe and China. While it is harmless to humans, it could have catastrophic effects for Europe's large pork industry.

German vets are preparing to deal with possible outbreaks and are carrying out practise operations, including the recovery of a wild boar in the northern state of Schleswig Holstein, which borders Denmark (photo).

In the eastern Europe, cases have been doubling every year since 2015, wrecking havoc on pig farms. Last month, Romania saw its worst outbreak since World War II, and had to cull over 120,000 pigs.

The EU health commissioner has called for a meeting with Belgian authorities on Monday to work on a prevention strategy. Many of the common measures include hunting bans, restricting access to the affected area, and testing caracasses.

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"The Belgian authorities announced yesterday that two isolated cases of African swine fever in two wild boars found dead in the forest in the region of Etalle," an EU Commission spokeswoman told repoters. She added that the Commission was in close contact with Belgian officials.

"A team of experts was requested by them and will be deployed this weekend," she said.


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es/rt (Reuters, dpa)

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