Spike in African swine fever cases in China

Spike in African swine fever cases in China

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Since the Lunar New Year celebrations, there has been a sudden jump in outbreaks of ASF on China’s pig farms.

There has been a sudden uptick in African swine fever (ASF) outbreaks on China’s pig farms, according to Reuters.

As a result, local pig company executives and analysts are now forecasting reduced domestic pork supplies and rising prices for the meat.

Despite the introduction of improved biosecurity on the nation’s farms, the virus has been circulating almost continuously, the source reports.

According to one Chinese pork market analyst, the disease outbreaks could cut domestic output this year by as much as 10%.

So far, authorities in China have not reported any recent ASF cases to international agencies such as the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).

This is with the exception of Hong Kong. At the start of February, the ASF virus was detected after almost half of the 107 pigs died at a small licensed farm in the New Territories. Recent updates have indicated that no further cases have been detected in the territory.

Further cases in Bhutan, Nepal

Latest notifications to WOAH by the national animal health agency refer to a further four ASF outbreaks in Nepal.

First to be confirmed was one infected wild pig out of around 1,500 animals at a natural park in the Far Western Region of the country. Based on the WOAH report, the case appears to have been found dead within 20 kilometers of the border with India.

Furthermore, ASF outbreaks were confirmed on three farms in the same province in January and February. Each of the affected premises had a herd of 12 to 15 pigs.

These bring to 37 the number of ASF outbreaks in Nepal over the past 12 months. Directly involved in these outbreaks have been around 18,500 domestic pigs, as well as the wild animals in the natural park.

In mid-February, ASF virus was detected again in Bhutan. At a village in the southern district of Dagana, six animals died at that time. Since then, the nation’s veterinary authority has notified WOAH that six more pigs have been culled there.

ASF ‘hotspot’ in the Philippines

This week, the authorities in Carcar City declared a “state of calamity” in the area. This came after confirmation of ASF cases in three communities of the city, reported the Philippine News Agency (PNA). Around 400 pigs were awaiting culling to control the spread of the infection in the area, where there are around 1,000 backyard hog raisers but no commercial pig farms.

Part of Cebu province, the city is located in the Central Visayas region.

Disease control processes have generated some controversy in the province, according to PNA. The national ASF program empowers local governments to set their own protection, surveillance and disease investigation procedures, as long as these are in line with national protocols from the Department of Agriculture.

In Cebu, the provincial government has commissioned a private laboratory to carry out ASF testing. Furthermore, the governor has called for an end to the policy of culling all pigs within 500 meters of a confirmed outbreak.

According to the region’s ASF coordinator, culling of hogs within this radius is necessary — and the area may need to be extended to 1 kilometer. This depends on a risk assessment based on local conditions. However, the authority can opt for a “test and destroy” or “test and slaughter” policy. With the former, all pigs testing positive for the virus are culled and the carcasses are buried. The alternative allows all pigs testing negative for the virus to be slaughtered for consumption. Both policies require all the animals in the infected zone to be killed, the official said.

ASF developments elsewhere in Asia

In the south Indian state of Kerala, an ASF outbreak has been confirmed at a farm in the Pathanamthitta district, reports New Indian Express. No details are reported on the number of animals at the farm or the likely source of infection. Authorities have introduced a ban on the transportation of pigs to or from an area within a 10-kilometer radius of the farm.

In 2022, local news sources reported one or more ASF outbreaks in 17 Indian states. So far this year, cases have been reported in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, as well as in Kerala’s Kottayam district.

After recent reports of ASF cases in South Sulawesi in Indonesia, the governor of North Sulawesi province has banned the entry of pigs from all other areas. This is according to a TribunNews report last week.

South Korea confirmed the first case of ASF in August 2021. Since then, the number of wild boar testing positive for the virus has reached 2,937. This is according to Pig People (as of March 13). It represents an increase of 47 compared to the total seven days previously.

The number of outbreaks in domestic pigs in South Korea remains at 32. Most recent farm outbreak was in mid-February.

Although so far free of ASF, the United States is being urged to prepare now for the possibility of the virus entering the country.

View our continuing coverage of the global African swine fever situation.