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China reports 18,000 pig deaths from disease outbreak

by 5m Editor
4 June 2007, at 12:27pm

BEIJING - China has said a contagious pig disease had killed 18,000 in the first five months of 2007. In Beijing's first report on the scale of an outbreak that has disrupted the pig industry and caused pork prices to soar.

A report on the agriculture ministry Web site (www.agri.gov.cn) said the blue ear disease outbreak had infected 45,000 pigs through May, with 18,000 having died.

It was the first official assessment since an outbreak of the disease a year ago killed what feed industry officials estimate at as many as 1 million pigs.

The ministry did not say how many pigs had died last year but noted the highly contagious disease had "caused heavy losses to the pig breeding industry".

The widespread disease has partly contributed to the soaring domestic pork prices -- and has put pressure on national inflation levels -- prompting Premier Wen Jiabao to visit a pig farm last month where he pledged to ensure meat supplies for the poor.

The disease, caused by a variation of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) virus, was still being found among pigs in some provinces, according to the ministry. It did not elaborate.

The ministry urged all local governments to boost vaccination efforts and to take more preventive measures to stop the spread of the disease.

Source: Reuters

5m Editor