France is expected to suspend pig-related imports from a number of countries as worries grow over the spread of a deadly swine virus.
Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea Virus (PEDv) has killed some seven million piglets in the US in the past year.
The disease has also been found in Canada, Mexico and Japan.
While the virus isn’t harmful to humans or food, France is concerned over the potential economic impact and is set to suspend imports of live pigs and sperm.
PEDv is spread in faecal matter and attacks the guts of pigs, preventing them from absorbing liquids and nutrients.
Older animals can survive but fatality rates among piglets run between 80% and 100%.
So virulent is the agent that one expert estimated that a spoonful of infected manure would be enough to sicken the entire US herd.
The disease is believed to have its origins in China, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
“According to the information from genetic analyses, there is some similarity with a strain from Asia,” director-general Dr Bernard Vallat told BBC News.
“But the evidence of the crossing from Asia to the US is not yet established. For the moment it is not possible to make a final conclusion on the formal link, it is a suspicion.”
In North America, the disease has moved rapidly, with around 4,000 outbreaks in 30 US states, in four Canadian provinces and in parts of Mexico.
Virus on the move