Fears ‘deadly pig virus’ could spread to other Asian countries

There are fears that the “rapid onset” of African Swine Fever (ASF) in China could mean that the “deadly pig virus” may spread to other Asian countries, according to the United Nation’s (UN’s) Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned today.

The detection of the disease more than 1,000km apart within China adds to these fears, the UN’s FAO added. There is no effective vaccine to protect swine from the disease. While the disease poses no direct threat to human health, outbreaks can be devastating.

Since the disease was first detected in China, authorities have reportedly culled more than 24,000 pigs in four separate provinces as part of efforts to control the spread of the disease.

It is understood that China accounts for around 50% of the global population of swine, estimated at 500 million, the FAO stated. There is also a very large and wide range of producers operating in China, from small family holdings to large-scale commercial operators.

The detection and geographical spread of the outbreaks in China have raised fears that ASF will spread into neighbouring countries, where trade and consumption of pork products are also high, the UN’s FAO said.

As investigations continue, it is understood that the China Animal Health and Epidemiology Center has found “no conclusive evidence of this latest outbreak’s source or linkages”.

Commenting on the situation, the FAO’s chief veterinarian, Juan Lubroth, said: “The movement of pig products can spread diseases quickly and, as in this case of African Swine Fever, it’s likely that the movement of such products – rather than live pigs – has caused the spread of the virus to other parts of China.”

The FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) is “communicating closely” with Chinese authorities in order to monitor the situation and to respond effectively to the outbreak inside the country.

It is also communicating with authorities in neighbouring countries.