Another Epidemic

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Italy’s capital imposed a ban on picnics and fenced off large areas of northern Rome this week as health authorities try to control the population of wild boars after detecting African swine fever, the Guardian reported.

Last week, officials discovered the first case of African swine fever in central Italy, a few months after the disease was spotted in wild boar in the northern Piedmont region.

African swine fever is harmless to humans but deadly to pigs and wild boars. The highly-contagious disease has caused significant losses in swine populations across the world, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.

Under the new regulation, authorities have imposed some “red zones” in northern Rome, including an area close to Vatican City. Citizens are forbidden to feed or approach the animals. Meanwhile, those who have walked through farmland or nature reserves must disinfect their shoes.

Rome has about 23,000 wild boars, which are mostly seen roaming in parks and on roads searching for food.

Meanwhile, residents in some neighborhoods have imposed a nightly “curfew” after a spate of attacks by the creatures.

Government officials said the situation would receive “maximum attention” and noted that a cull is being considered to reduce the large wild boar population.

Health Ministry Undersecretary Andrea Costa acknowledged that animal rights groups might oppose the plan but stressed that “we are facing an emergency.”

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