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Russian meat producer Cherkizovo denies swine fever at units

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Veterinary and Phyto-Sanitary Surveillance Service (VPSS) on Friday reported suspected outbreaks of African Swine Fever (ASF) at units of Cherkizovo, while the meat producer said independent tests had come back clean.

The genetic material of the ASF pathogen was identified in samples from pigs supplied this month to a meat processing plant in the Penza region, the VPSS said.

The suppliers were Tambovmyasoprom and Resurs, both of which are part of Cherkizovo.

A Cherkizovo representative, however, said tests at independent laboratories found no ASF. The company said the units account for a small share of its overall pork production.

The samples have been sent to the Russian Scientific Research Institute of Veterinary Virology for the diagnosis confirmation, the VPSS said.

Medium and large Russian pig farms are usually well protected against ASF, which has no cure. The virus is most common at small farms and is spread partly by wild boars. It is harmless to humans.

(Reporting by Polina Devitt and Maria Kiselyova; editing by Maya Dyakina and Jason Neely)

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