China tightens detection, disease control amid swine fever outbreaks

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/8/29 21:48:41

Nation tightens detection amid swine fever outbreaks

Chinese agricultural officials said Wednesday that further detection work is needed given the scale of contamination by the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus in the nation, since the possibility of further cases cannot be excluded.

The four ASF outbreaks in China have been effectively dealt with, but there's a good chance that the disease will linger and perhaps even cause new cases, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs told a press briefing on Wednesday.

China confirmed the first outbreak of ASF on August 3 after a number of pigs died in Shenyang, capital of Northeast China's Liaoning Province. Three more outbreaks were confirmed during the month with the latest being in Yueqing, East China's Zhejiang Province on August 23.

The rapid onset of ASF in China and its detection in areas more than 1,000 kilometers apart could mean the deadly pig virus may spread to other Asian countries at any time, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned Tuesday.

The detection and diverse geographical spread of the outbreaks in China have raised fears that the disease will cross borders to Southeast Asia or the Korean Peninsula, where trade and consumption of pork products is also high, said the FAO.

Feng Yonghui, chief analyst at hog market information provider, said that it is likely the virus will spread to surrounding countries. "Virus transmission can take place via human shoe soles or water, as well as by pork and pork-related products."

"The virus, only lethal to pigs but not parasitic in humans, can survive for years in low temperatures. If pork or related products are not cooked thoroughly, there is a high risk that they can introduce the virus through cross-border activities," said Feng.

In his view, the most important thing is to strengthen detection as a daily routine.

The work should continue for half a month to one month, he said, since the virus has a latency period as long as two weeks.

ASF poses no direct threat to human and food safety. Members of the public need not worry if they buy related pork products from proper channels that observe quarantine procedures, the agriculture ministry said.

China imports pork from over 20 countries such as Germany and the US, and total imports have a small proportion of the market - about 1 million tons - compared with China's production and consumption of the meat, which stands at about 50 million tons each year, Feng told the Global Times on Wednesday.

As for how ASF got to China, Feng said it probably came from Russia in the form of pork, either through proper customs channels or smuggling. The Chinese authorities have yet to publicly identify the source. "ASF was previously detected in some parts of Russia, but it still has large areas without the virus, and that's where China imports from."

According to inspection results from the China Animal Health and Epidemiology Center, the strain of virus found in Liaoning evolved from one in Georgia in 2007. That strain is the wild ASF virus in Russia and Eastern Europe, domestic news site reported on Tuesday.

Newspaper headline: Nation tightens detection amid swine fever outbreaks


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