Thousands of pigs have been culled in a bid to contain an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in one of Russia’s major pig-producing regions.
Vets decided to kill more than 10,000 pigs on a farm in Primorsky Krai, far-east Russia, after 4,070 animals tested positive for the disease and nearly 2,500 had died.
Officials said the cull was being carried out as a precautionary measure because the disease had spread so quickly since it was reported and confirmed by the All-Russian Research Institute for Animal Health last week (20 May).
While they had initially hoped that the infected animals could be treated, the region’s vice-governor, Sergei Sidorenki, said more-extreme measures were needed to control the disease.
“When the virus first hit the [pig unit] there were 13,448 pigs of different ages,” he said.
“More than 2,500 animals have died and we are continuing to see new signs of pig mortality.
“We previously considered a treatment option, but it increases the possibility that infection could get beyond the farm’s territory.[That is why] we decided to destroy all the livestock.”
The unit has been put under quarantine and it is set to be disinfected in the next three weeks. It could then be restocked after two months, officials said.
A large-scale vaccination of livestock in neighbouring farms and villages is now underway as part of efforts to contain the spread of the disease, they added.
As an additional measure, vets have also asked residents not to buy meat or raw milk from the spot market.
Primorsky Krai last had an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in 2010.
The region is one of Russia’s most significant pig-producing areas, with plans for a $1bn pig-production ‘cluster’ unveiled earlier this year.
The 500,000-head project aims to increase pork production by 80%, increase Russian pork exports to Asia and increase self-sufficiency in the region.
The development includes six pig farms, a feed mill and genetics centre, and 7,000 hectares of arable land to produce 185,000 tonnes of soya bean and corn for animal feed.