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Haiti sees first African swine fever outbreak in 37 years -OIE

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By Reuters

<div> <p>By Tom Polansek</p> <p><span class="caps">CHICAGO</span> – Haiti has recorded its first outbreak of the fatal pig virus African swine fever in 37 years, the World Organisation for Animal Health said, fueling concerns about the disease’s spread in the Americas.</p> <p>An operation in Anse-à-Pitre, near Haiti’s border with the Dominican Republic, suffered an outbreak that began on Aug. 26, the organisation known as <span class="caps">OIE</span> said in a report on Monday.</p> <p>The detection is “unfortunate” but not surprising due to recent cases in the Dominican Republic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (<span class="caps">USDA</span>) said on Tuesday. The agency is consulting with animal health officials in both countries.</p> <p>Outbreaks on Hispaniola raise worries that African swine fever could spread to the United States, which has never had the disease, and temporarily cripple U.S. pork exports. Governments often block imports of pork from countries where the disease has been found to prevent transmission.</p> <p>The United States already prohibits Haitian and Dominican pork due to another pig disease there, according to the <span class="caps">USDA</span>.</p> <p>Still, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is increasing inspections for illegal pork on flights from Hispaniola and making sure airplane garbage is properly disposed of, the <span class="caps">USDA</span> said.</p> <p>The <span class="caps">USDA</span> in July reported the Dominican Republic had the Americas’ first cases of African swine fever in nearly 40 years.</p> <p>Last week, the <span class="caps">USDA</span> confirmed Haiti’s outbreak through testing at a laboratory on Plum Island in New York, the <span class="caps">OIE</span> said. Haiti is conducting surveillance for the disease and imposed a quarantine to control the outbreak, the <span class="caps">OIE</span> said. </p> <p>African swine fever is harmless to humans but often fatal to pigs. It originated in Africa before spreading to Europe and Asia and has killed hundreds of millions of pigs.</p> <p>The disease spread rapidly in China starting three years ago and wiped out half the country’s hog herd within a year. </p> <p>In Haiti, the outbreak is the latest challenge for residents and the government following an earthquake and the president’s assassination.</p> <p/> </div>