Slovakia has reported its first case of African swine fever, making it the 10th country in the European Union to have discovered the deadly disease. A cull of pigs in the area surrounding the farm has begun. Authorities have halted movements of pigs in a number of zones.

The outbreak was discovered on a farm in a village sited less than half a kilometer from the border with Hungary – about a third of a mile, said Jozef Bires, director-general of the State Veterinary and Food Administration. Hungary has a major problem with African swine fever in its wild-boar population. Hundreds of them have been diagnosed with the disease to date.

Slovakian authorities have stated that all pigs within 3 kilometers of the outbreak – almost 2 miles – are to be culled. They have established a 3-kilometer protection zone and a 10-kilometer surveillance zone – about 6 miles.

A number of pigs died in the eastern-Slovakia village of Strážne, 460 kilometers – about 286 miles – east of Bratislava, according to village mayor Julius Horvath. He said there are no major pig farms in the area. The African swine fever deaths occurred in households with just one or two animals.

African swine fever first entered the European Union in 2007. It has since spread from east to west across Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine and Belgium. Thanks to huge efforts in the Czech Republic the authorities there have kept the outbreaks under control. The country was declared free of African swine fever again earlier this year.

The United States and Canada are on alert to prevent the spread of African swine fever to pig herds in both countries. The disease is already spreading fast across China and other Asian countries, where the majority of the world’s pig production is situated.

With 16 years experience behind him, award-winning agricultural journalist Chris McCullough is always on the hunt for his next story. He grew up on the family dairy farm in the heart of Northern Ireland and is based on the country’s east coast. He travels around the world to bring readers international news.