Latvia slaughters pigs after African swine fever outbreak

Riga (AFP) –


Latvia's government on Friday voted to fund the disposal of pig carcasses after a pork producer decided to exterminate all of its livestock when the animals contracted African swine fever.

The Baltic state's cabinet said it would contribute 367,000 euros ($426,000) towards disposing the bodies of the 15,570 pigs to be killed.

Pork producer Druvas Unguri, which is based near the western town of Saldus, will receive disaster compensation exceeding one million euros, 75 percent of which will come from EU funds.

"The pig extermination should take nine days," said Maris Balodis, head of the government's food and veterinary service.

"They will be killed humanely via lethal gassing, then incinerated at high temperatures," he told public radio on Friday.

African swine fever (ASF) is not harmful to humans but causes haemorrhagic fever in domesticated swine and wild boar that almost always ends in death within a few days.

There is no antidote or vaccine, and the only known method to prevent the disease from spreading is a mass cull of the infected livestock.

ASF was first spotted in Latvia in 2014 when infected wild boar wandered in from Russia. Since then 666 of the animals have died from the disease across the country.