Walloon forests closed to prevent African Swine Fever outbreak
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    Walloon forests closed to prevent African Swine Fever outbreak

    Starting from 4 October, the forest in the infected area will be closed to hikers and cyclists. Credit: Belga

    Starting from 4 October, the infected Gaume forests in Wallonia will be closed to hikers and cyclists to prevent an outbreak of the African Swine Fever Virus, announced Céline Tellier (Ecolo), the Walloon Minister for Environment, Nature and Forest.

    The virus causes a haemorrhagic fever with high mortality rates in domestic pigs, causing deaths of animals as quickly as a week after infection. Closing the forests is considered essential to overcome the disease and to avoid the risk of it spreading, particularly via wild boars, reports RTBF.

    Tellier said she was aware of the consequences of this measure, as the fall period usually brings a lot of tourists to the Walloon nature. However, it is a necessary constraint to eradicate the disease and limit all health risks, she said.

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    “This is not a decision we are very happy about, but it is a necessary constraint to win the fight against African swine fever in the area. Nothing changes with regard to forestry activities already limited to the evacuation of bark spruce,” she said, reports Sudinfo.

    Fewer and fewer wild boars who tested positively for the virus are discovered. The last animal that tested positive was found on 11 August. However, some boars are resistant to the virus and could be contagious.

    “Of the 3,667 wild boars tested throughout the APP area, 827 were found positive for African Swine Fever. In the same area, about 5,000 wild boars have been killed or found dead since 13 September 2018,” said the Walloon Public Service.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times