China may face wider bans on pork as deadly pig virus spreads
UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation planning to release recommendations for governments after a crisis meeting in Bangkok
Wider bans on pork products from China may be recommended as part of emergency measures to stem the global spread of African swine fever.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the United Nations agency spearheading an international effort to control the deadly virus, plans to release recommendations for governments after a crisis meeting in Bangkok this week. The Philippines last week ordered a temporary prohibition on pigs and pig-related products from China, Russia and four European countries to prevent African swine fever. More nations may follow, the FAO said.
The contagious viral illness, which does not harm humans, can be 100 per cent fatal to pigs, causing them to die from haemorrhagic disease within days.
Tens of thousands of hogs have been culled to control outbreaks in China, which accounts for more than half the planet’s pigs.
The FAO is hosting government and pork industry officials from across Asia-Pacific at a three-day meeting that concludes on Friday.
“By this Friday, we will come up with a framework for the region with priority action plans for each country,” said Wantanee Kalpravidh, regional manager of the FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases, on Wednesday.
China has detected an outbreak of African swine fever on a farm in Anhui province, its 10th case since the first outbreak of the deadly virus was discovered just over a month ago, state broadcaster China Central Television said on Thursday.
The report said that of the 886 pigs on the farm in Fengyang county in the city of Chuzhou, 22 had died and 62 were infected.
The outbreak is the fifth since Sunday and relatively close to the other four cases in the eastern province, stirring concerns about the increasing speed of infection in the region.
The disease has travelled vast distances in the world’s largest pork producer from Jiamisu, Heilongjiang, on the border with Russia to Wenzhou, in Zhejiang province, which is 3,000km (1,865 miles) to the south.
“We have a steep hill ahead of us,” said Juan Lubroth, FAO’s chief veterinary officer. “We have only seen the beginning. We have not seen the end of it.”
Researchers believe the virus may have been introduced to China through contaminated food that was fed to pigs and, therefore, could spread to other countries the same way.
Although China is a major pork-producer, most its production is consumed domestically. Many countries, including Australia, ban pork and pork-containing products from China because of the risk of introduction of another livestock scourge, foot-and-mouth disease.
Small quantities of pork-containing products may be shipped internationally and possibly illegally, in food carried across borders, representing a risk to other countries, Wantanee said.
Additional reporting by Reuters