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France to cull wild boar to prevent ASF
France has stepped up surveillance measures since ASF was confirmed in wild boar in the Belgian region of Luxembourg in September.
Move prompted by new Belgian cases nearby 

France is set to cull all wild boar in an area along the Belgian border in a bid to prevent African swine fever (ASF), after new cases were discovered nearby in Belgium.

The boar-free zone along the border will cover several miles and a perimeter fence will be built, Reuters reported.

“The confirmation of two cases of African swine fever on Jan 9 2019, in Belgium at about 1km from the border, leaves our country more exposed than ever to this major risk for pig farming,” a ministry statement said, according to Reuters.

“We are now at maximum risk level.”

France has stepped up surveillance measures since ASF was confirmed in wild boar in the Belgian region of Luxembourg in September. Two wild boar tested positive for the virus after being found in a new area, prompting the Walloon government to expand its buffer and surveillance zones.

Elsewhere, the virus has reached 24 provinces and regions in China, since its first outbreak in August last year. The country culled 916,000 pigs after around 100 outbreaks of ASF across the country, Reuters reported.

The virus has also recently been detected in Mongolia for the first time, and in pork products that were illegally imported to Australia and intercepted by border security.

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Public urged to provide homes for swifts

News Story 1
 The RSPB is calling on the public to help provide new homes for swifts, as figures show the birds' numbers have fallen to less than half what they were 20 years ago.

Swifts arrive in the UK late April-May and can spend up to three months in the country. The RSPB attributes the birds’ decline to modern buildings, which lack the nooks and crannies they need to build nests.

While some house builders have agreed to integrate swift homes into new buildings, the RSPB believes more can be done to help this incredible bird. 'Just, 1,000 additional new nest boxes could make a difference’, the charity said.  

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News Shorts
Detection time for omeprazole reduced to 48 hours in racehorses

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced that the detection time for omeprazole has been reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours. This is effective from 1 February 2019.

Omeprazole can be prescribed for the management of gastric ulcers in racehorses; however, studies have recently become available that show no direct effect of omeprazole on performance.

Tim Morris, the Authority’s Director of Equine Science and Welfare, commented: “Medication control in horse racing is essential to allow treatment for good welfare but also to ensure fair racing by medication withdrawal before racing. Trainers have asked for more information, especially on anti-ulcer medications, and we have used existing information to make a harmonised detection time for omeprazole available as soon as we could.”