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France bans American, Japanese pig imports over deadly diarrhoea

media Piglets in Poland - 90 per cent of young pigs die once they've caught PED Reuters//Kacper Pempel

France has banned imports of live pigs and pig semen from the US, Canada, Mexico and Japan to prevent the spread of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus (PED) which has killed millions of pigs and pushed up pork prices in the US.

Animal feed containing pork is also banned but pork for human consumption is not because the virus cannot be transmitted to humans.

The move aims to protect French farmers from the spread of the disease, which is transmitted orally and leads to diarrhoea and vomiting in piglets and mothers.

There is no effective vaccine against it and it kills 90 per cent of piglets, the French authorities say.

PED was first recorded in the 1970s but a more virulent form appeared in the US and Canada in April 2013 and in Mexico and Japan at the end of the year.

Officials say France is the first European to introduce such a ban, although China is reported to have done so.

It will have little economic effect – only 12 pigs have been imported from the US and Canada this year.

“This type of global epidemic spreads very quickly around the world and, unfortunately, the first people to suffer the consequences are always the farmers,” farmers’ union activist Christian Fourcade told RFI.

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