Italy takes further measures to contain swine fever outbreak -ANSA

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MILAN (Reuters) - Italy on Wednesday introduced further measures in two northern regions to contain a recent African swine fever outbreak, including the immediate slaughter of pigs and a six-month restocking ban, national news agency ANSA reported.

The deadly hog disease is harmless to humans but often fatal to pigs, leading to financial losses for farmers. It originated in Africa before spreading to Europe and Asia, and has killed hundreds of millions of pigs worldwide.

The health ministry had no immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

Last week Health Minister Roberto Speranza and Agriculture Minister Stefano Patuanelli signed an order banning hunting and several other outdoor activities in 114 rural areas of the northwestern regions of Piedmont and Liguria.

The new decree sets additional rules within a 10-km radius of the boundaries of the infected area, including strengthening of surveillance and regulation of hunting and other agricultural and pastoral activities, ANSA added.

The discovery of the disease in Italy could deal a blow to its meat producers as governments often block imports of pork products from countries where swine fever has been found as a way to prevent transmission.

(Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro; Editing by Mark Heinrich)