Fearful of swine fever, France to put up fence on Belgian border

Strasbourg, France | Reuters — France will put up fencing along its border with Belgium to prevent wild boars spreading African swine fever, a virulent livestock disease that could disrupt Europe’s pig industry.

France has been on alert for African swine fever since Belgium detected the virus last month among wild boars a few kilometres from the French border.

Belgium has already faced embargos on its pork exports from countries like China, which has also seen an outbreak of the virus, and South Korea.

After stepping up checks and banning hunting and other activities, authorities in northeast France now plan to install fences by the end of this week along the border in a zone spanning four administrative regions, an official at the Meurthe-et-Moselle prefecture said.

In Moselle, one of the other regions covered by the surveillance zone, the prefecture also confirmed that fencing would be put up, without giving more details.

Western European countries have been trying to avert the spread of the disease, which is highly contagious among pigs but harmless to humans, after a growing number of cases in Eastern Europe.

Belgium has reported dozens of cases of African swine fever among dead boars near the French border.

It decided to slaughter several thousand pigs in the zone to prevent the virus contaminating farm herds.

Wild boars can carry the virus although experts say it can also be spread through food products and by people.

China, the world’s largest pigmeat producer, confirmed a new outbreak of African swine fever on Friday.

There is no vaccine or treatment for the virus, which has proved difficult to eradicate for countries.

Reporting for Reuters by Gilbert Reilhac in Strasbourg; writing by Gus Trompiz.

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