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Lithuania to slaughter 20,000 pigs as swine fever spreads

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Lithuanian authorities on Thursday ordered the slaughter of 19,400 pigs at one of the country's largest farms as an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in the region spread.

It was first case of ASF to be found in farm pigs in the Baltic country, Chief Veterinary Officer Jonas Milius said, amid an outbreak in which cases have appeared in neighboring countries.

"We will not take additional measures to contain the fever, as we have already been operating as if a full-scale outbreak is underway," Milius told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Latvia, which has also found cases, has suspended imports of Lithuanian raw pork and pork meat products. Poland has also reported ASF cases at farm pigs near its border with Belarus.

ASF was found after pigs in the Rupinskai farm near the Belarusia and Latvia borders began dying in larger numbers than usual on Wednesday, the farm's owner, Danish firm Idavang, said.

The farm was taken over by the veterinary service after the virus was confirmed in the dead pigs.

All pigs on the farm will be exterminated, Idavang said. The company is the biggest pig farmer in Lithuania with 525,000 pigs at 11 farms, it said on its website.

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health there is so far no effective vaccine against ASF, but the disease poses no danger to human health.

(Reporting by Andrius Sytas via Stockholm newsroom, editing by David Evans)

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