5 September 2000
More swine fever cases expected

by Alistair Driver

SWINE fever is expected to be confirmed on more farms prompting fears that the disease has spread despite controls designed to restrict it.

A sixth case of swine fever – the first in three weeks – was confirmed by the Ministry of Agriculture at Topcroft, Norfolk, on Monday (4 September).

However, a seventh case of the disease is now suspected on a farm near Woodbridge, Suffolk, according to the National Pig Association.

Other industry sources suggest that other more suspect farms previously unconnected with the disease are being tested for swine fever.

Blood tests have been taken from other East Anglian herds and the industry is bracing itself for more cases expected to be confirmed within the next few days.

Mike Sheldon, NPA chief executive, described news that the disease had not been contained as “shattering”. Controls are unlikely to be lifted soon, he said.

The farm is in a movement restriction zones imposed on healthy farms in bid to stop the disease spreading. But it affects new farms on the edge of the old area.

Farmers with healthy animals in the zones have been promised up 35 for each pig they cannot move – an amount they have condemned as not enough.

One producer with healthy pigs told the National Pig Association website that he was “fighting a battle with himself” not to visit the infected farm.

The farmer suggested that he could transfer the disease back to his own unit, and collect 100% compensation for his herd rather than just 35 per animal.

Mr Sheldon said: “Producers have had the immense task of looking after the welfare of pigs, which should have left their farms some weeks ago,”.

“This has posed an enormous practical difficulty on all those involved, not to mention unbearable financial strain.”

Mr Sheldon said the amount of compensation gravely underestimated the seriousness of the situation which could continue for several more weeks.