HELSINKI, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- Finland is considering the construction of a wall on the Finnish-Russian border to prevent wild boars that can bring the African swine fever to Finland, media reports said on Monday.
Sirpa Thessler, a senior official at the Finnish Natural Resources Agency, told public broadcaster Yle that the agency would figure out how long the wall could be and consider also the ecological impact of such a wall and the repercussions on other animals.
The investigation has been ordered by the Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry of Finland and should be completed by the end of the year.
The highly contagious disease has reached some Russian areas that border on Finland. It is no danger to people though.
Finland has stepped up prevention measures to keep the swine pest out of Finland. Hunting of wild boars has been encouraged and pork production farms have been required to install additional fences if pigs are kept outdoors during summer.
The swine pest can also be transferred via food carried by travelers. Finland has campaigned in ports with posters against meat products brought in by tourists. There are no formal customs controls for passengers entering Finland, except directly from Russia.
"Even one sausage brought from the infected area can be fatal," Katri Levonen, a senior official at the Ministry of Agriculture told the newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus.
She explained the infection spreads with long leaps via food, while the spreading based on direct contact with animals progresses slowly.
Finnish officials and the pork industries were alarmed about the news that the swine fever had reached Belgium last week.
The most western reported infection before Belgium had been the Czech Republic. Levonen said the leap from the Czech Republic to Belgium must have been with food. The infection of the Czech Republic had resulted as wild boars had been able to open a waste container, she said.
Jukka Rantala, the production animal ombudsman of the Organization of Finnish Agricultural Producers, told Maaseudun tulevaisuus that detection of African swine fever can cause the pork exports to a standstill.
"Much pork would remain a burden for the European market. Problems are to be expected on the European pork market," Rantala said.