Minister: Swine Fever All But Inevitable ({{commentsTotal}})

Agriculture Minister Ivari Padar said on Tuesday it was near inevitable that swine fever would reach Estonian territory, probably through wild pig populations.

"Nature is nature," said Padar after a meeting on the subject at the ministry. "If wild pigs with the virus have been found within 10 kilometers of the border, that is a sad fact that has to be taken into consideration."

The grain harvest period has the wild boar on the move and they can be found practically everywhere in Estonia, reported.

Hunters urge caution, with one MP who is a hunter, Karel Rüütli (Social Democrats) saying abolishing bag limits and decimating the population - a step taken in Belarus - could backfire and weaken resistance to the virus.

The speed of the infection's spread has been assessed as around 300 kilometers per year, which researchers say show that human activity, not the wild boar, is responsible for spreading the virus.

 If the disease struck at a farm, the economic losses would be significant, and pig farmers have already adopted additional protective measures.

The biggest pig farm in the Baltics, AS Rakvere Farmid, makes up 40 percent of Estonia's live pig production.

"Our farms have adopted the strictest measures of all times. The territory of the farm is completely sealed off, there are disinfection baths in front of the farms, people change clothes, footwear, take shower going in and out," said AS Rakvere Farmide production director Mati Tuvi.