Hogs of War? Russia Accuses Neighbor of Pig Sabotage

A top Russian health official has accused neighboring Georgia of launching a devastating biological war. .. against Russian pigs.

Gennady Onishchenko, the Kremlin's chief "sanitary doctor," said that Georgia was the source of what appeared to be an "artificially created" outbreak of African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) that has spread through southern Russia and caused the deaths of nearly half a million pigs - either by direct infection or by farmers "culling" the pigs in an attempt to keep the disease from spreading, according to Russia's state-owned RIA Novosti.

"ASFV came to us from Georgia," Onishchenko said. "[The outbreak] shows signs of being an artificially created situation. This is an act of economic subversion that the [south Russian] Krasnodar Territory has been unable to tackle for three years."

The American Centers for Disease Control describes ASFV as "highly contagious" and "one of the most feared diseases in pigs." The deadly strain was introduced to the Caucasus in 2007 and has had a "devastating" effect there since, the CDC said in a 2011 report.

For a herd in which ASFV has been discovered, morbidity rates reach nearly 100 percent and there is no treatment or vaccine, according to the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University. Humans, however, are not susceptible.

In August 2008, Georgia drew the ire and might of Russian military when it invaded South Ossetia, a breakaway region of Georgia supported by Russia. The resulting conflict lasted only days and ended after Russian troops invaded Georgia.

READ: Congressional Report on the 2008 Russia-Georgia Conflict (PDF)

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