China culls 900 pigs after reports of first African swine fever outbreak in country

News of the infection will stoke concerns about possible spread to Japan and Korean peninsula

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 August, 2018, 7:34pm
UPDATED : Friday, 03 August, 2018, 10:30pm

China has reported its first case of African swine fever (ASF), a highly contagious disease of pigs, in the northeastern city of Shenyang and culled more than 900 hogs to prevent the epidemic from spreading, local media reported. This is also the first reported case in East Asia.

Central authorities confirmed the devastating illness in a pig on Friday in a community in Shenyang’s Shenbei New Area, before killing all the pigs there that were thought to be affected and launching tests on others in the area that might be threatened, Liaoshen Evening News reported.

ASF, which poses no threat to humans, is often prevalent in countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Outbreaks have also occurred in Europe.

So far 913 hogs have been killed and disinfection in the affected part of the city is ongoing which has been designated a threatened area by the agriculture minister and local government.

Animal health workers are collecting samples from all hogs in the designated zone for a virus test, the report said.

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ASF can cause death between two and 10 days after the animals have contracted it and mortality rates may be as high as 100 per cent, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health. Any occurrence of the disease must be reported to the organisation.

News of the infection will stoke concerns about its spread in a country which is by far the world’s largest producer of pork. And there are fears the disease could spread to pig herds in Japan, the Korean peninsula and other parts of Asia. Cases have been recorded across Europe, Russia and Sub-Saharan Africa, but it has never occurred in East Asia until now, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation.

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“If it can be put under control, it should not be a problem … but we have to watch the developments very carefully,” said Yao Guiling, an analyst with consultancy China-America Commodity Data Analytics.

“If the disease gets out of control, the losses will be immeasurable.”

ASF occurs among pigs and wild boars. It is transmitted by ticks and direct contact between animals and there is no vaccine.

Additional reporting from Reuters