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Argentina Aims To Eradicate Swine Fever Without Vaccination

by 5m Editor
11 March 2004, at 12:00am

ARGENTINA - Argentina aims to eradicate classical swine fever, a highly infectious viral disease that kills hogs, without using vaccination to do so, Agriculture Secretary Miguel Campos said.

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By doing this, Argentina hopes to begin exporting hogs to foreign markets that ban this product from countries which eradicate the disease via vaccine.

"This is the beginning of something very important for this sector," said Campos at a press conference.

Argentina produced 1.5 million hogs in 2003, according to Agriculture Secretariat data. And while the country is not currently capable of exporting pork in substantial numbers, Campos said that with enough effort, this will change.

"If we take action and work hard to convert our dreams into reality, we can without a doubt become a major exporter," Campos said.

For this to happen, Argentina must first stop vaccinating its hogs and then go an entire year without finding any hint of the disease within its borders. Once this happens, Argentina may apply to the the World Organization for Animal Health, or OIE, for official recognition of its swine fever status.

The Secretariat has given ranchers two months to stop vaccinating.

Foot-and-Mouth parallel?

In early 2001, Argentina was officially considered to be free of another highly contagious animal disease - foot-and-mouth disease - without vaccination.

But Argentina lost this status in 2001 after revealing a widespread outbreak of the disease that year.

As a result, Argentina lost access to almost all of its export markets for fresh beef. Since 2001, Argentina has returned to vaccinating against foot-and-mouth disease and has won access to many of the markets that had initially banned Argentine beef.

On Tuesday, hog experts dismissed concern that their industry might suffer a fate similar to that of the beef sector when they stop using vaccine.

"This is a different kind of disease," said Patricia Millares, who runs a group that represents the private sector's efforts to eliminate swine fever.

"With foot-and-mouth, you had problems with infected animals coming into the center of the country from the periphery, such as Bolivia and Paraguay," Millares said. "In the case of hogs, around 80% of production takes place in the center of the country and stays there, or, if anything, it migrates toward the periphery. So there is less of a threat from the border area."

Classical swine fever, also known as hog cholera, has not appeared in Argentina since May 2000.

Source: eFeedLink - 11th March 2004

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