Japan alerts spread of livestock infectious diseases in summer

TOKYO, July 16 ― Japan has raised a nationwide alert on livestock infectious diseases, as a growing number of overseas tourists in the summer holidays may have dire consequences on the country’s farm industry.

In recent years, cases of livestock infectious diseases, such as food-and-mouth disease and African swine fever, have been recorded across the globe.

Foot-and-mouth disease virus causes a highly contagious acute vesicular disease that affects cloven-hoofed livestock including cattle, camels, goats, sheep and pigs. It can cause high fever as well as blisters inside the mouth and on the feet and spread very quickly if it is uncontrolled.

Meanwhile, African swine fever occurs among pigs and wild boars. The symptoms of the fever include loss of appetite, lack of energy and internal bleeding with hemorrhages visible on the ears and flanks.

Sudden death may occur after ten days. Severe strains of the virus are generally fatal.

It is transmitted by infectious ticks and direct contact between animals and with anything contaminated by the virus such as clothing, vehicles and other equipment. And there is no vaccine.

According to the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), the first five months of 2018 saw the arrival of 13.2 million foreign tourists to Japan. That was up 16% from the same period a year earlier.

Of those, the number of tourists from South Korea and China, where foot-and-mouth disease cases have been confirmed this year, grew more than 20 percent in the same period.

That of Russia, where African swine fever as well as foot-and-month disease have been recorded this year, increased 30 percent in the same period.

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