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07/12/2018 12:05:30  

African swine fever has been spreading rapidly in China and has also travelled from Russia and Eastern Europe to Belgium. Experts fear it is only a matter of time before it reaches the US.

A global outbreak of African swine fever will reach the US within a year unless border protections are tightened and imports of high-risk pork products banned, warn biosecurity experts. It would cost the US economy $16.5bn (£12.9bn) in the first year alone, it has been estimated.

An ongoing epidemic of the virus, which is deadly for pigs but cannot yet be transmitted to humans, has prompted the US Department of Agriculture to review and strengthen its border protections. After outbreaks in Belgium and China this year, the USDA has increased the use of sniffer dogs at major ports, airports, land borders crossings, and has also built quarantine stations and increased passenger and cargo inspections on flights from China and Russia, the worst hit countries.

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