Italy is planning to selectively kill wild boars around Rome because an African swine fever outbreak is threatening the local industry that kills domestic pigs so people can eat their flesh. As only pigs killed by people are allowed to be eaten, those who profit from the pig’s death are losing money with the spread of this re-emerging epidemic.
Rome, which has wild boards even in the city foraging for food in often overflowing rubbish bins, has banned picnics and ordered that rubbish bins be fenced off in the north of the capital, where the disease was found. Andrea Costa, junior health minister, said the spread of wild boars was a problem all over Italy and a “large scale cull” was needed nationally.
African Swine Fever can be spread through direct contact with infected pigs, faeces or body fluids; indirect contact with equipment, vehicles or people who work with pigs between pig farms with ineffective biosecurity; pigs eating infected pig meat or meat products; or biological vectors such as ticks of the species Ornithodoros.
African swine fever originated in Africa before spreading to Europe and Asia. The virus is thought to be derived from a virus of soft tick that naturally infects wild pigs, including giant forest hogs, warthogs, and bushpigs, in whom the infection is generally asymptomatic. Then domestic pigs were initially domesticated in North Africa and Eurasia and introduced into southern Africa from Europe and the Far East by the Portuguese and Chinese. Swine fever was first described in Kenya in 1921 as a new disease-causing high mortalities in recently imported European pigs, although an older outbreak from 1907 has now been attributed to the same virus. The first occurrence outside the African continent occurred in Portugal in 1957. In Sardinia, the disease has been endemic since 1978. Therefore, it seems that this epidemic has been caused by the same animal agriculture industry that now tries to blame wildlife for it, as it normally does every time that it causes death and destruction beyond the animals it routinely kills. For instance, in the case of Bovine Tuberculosis in the UK, the industry — and the government — has blamed wild badgers for its spread, while the very name of the disease tells us where it came from.