Picnics have been banned and litter bins fenced off across much of northern Rome as health authorities scramble to contain the wild boar population after African swine fever was detected in a dead animal.
Feeding or approaching animals was also banned, while people who walked through farmland or nature reserves in affected areas were told to disinfect their shoes.
African swine fever, deadly to pigs and wild boars but harmless to humans, was detected on Thursday in the body of a dead wild boar in the Insugherata nature reserve.
It was the first time a case had been reported in central Italy after the disease was discovered in a wild boar in the northern Piedmont region in January, prompting the government to appoint a special commissioner to impose disease eradication measures.
The relevant anti-boar “red zones” in Rome are located in the north and northwest of the Italian capital, including an area near Vatican City.
Around 23,000 wild boars live in and around Rome, according to estimates by Coldiretti, the farmers’ association. The animals are often seen in parks, walking down the road or searching for food in overflowing garbage cans, mainly in the northern neighborhoods of the city.
Last week, residents of several neighborhoods imposed a nightly “curfew” after a series of wild boar attacks. A woman was slightly injured after being pushed to the ground by an animal she encountered while taking out the rubbish.
Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the situation would receive “maximum attention”. Andrea Costa, undersecretary of the health ministry, said the government was also discussing a “culling plan” to reduce the wild boar population.
“I respect the sensitivity of animal rights activists and environmentalists, but we are facing an emergency and we must deal with it with emergency measures,” he told state broadcaster Rai.