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African swine fever: conquering Asia, moving in South Africa, smouldering in EU

The Pork Checkoff provides a rundown of African swine fever outbreaks across the globe and what action is being taken to curb the epidemic.

23 April 2019, at 10:18am

The Pork Checkoff, in collaboration with the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV), Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) and US Department of Agriculture (USDA), monitor foreign animal disease (FAD) outbreaks and provide biosecurity information to American producers. More information on African swine fever and protecting your farm from FADs can be found online.

ASF China outbreak countrywide

With the official report coming late last week that the island province of Hainan was positive for African swine fever (ASF), China is now essentially ASF-positive in its entirety. In the west, Xinjiang was found to be positive in early April, followed shortly by Tibet. The only areas not known to be ASF-positive now are the city-based zones of Hong Kong and Macau, which are in the extreme south of China.

Since its discovery in China in August 2018, Rabobank estimates that ASF has affected 150 million to 200 million pigs, which is nearly 30 percent larger than annual US pork production and equivalent to Europe’s annual pork supply. These losses cannot easily be replaced by other proteins (chicken, duck, seafood, beef and lamb), nor will larger imports be able to fully offset the loss. The firm believes this will result in a net supply gap of almost 10 million metric tonnes in the total 2019 animal protein supply, which could be a leading driver of recent pork import announcements.

Cambodia joins Vietnam as ASF-positive

The recent notice by the OIE, which flagged Cambodia as being positive for ASF, revealed that 400 pigs died from the disease and another 100 pigs were culled. The outbreak is in the northeastern-most Rattanakiri province bordering Vietnam, which was itself found to be ASF-positive on 19 February.

Most of Vietnam’s 556 cases of ASF outbreak have occurred in this northern area. Some Vietnamese officials have said that the virus may have entered the country via people who brought infected pigs from China or from China-made hog feed.

South Africa reports new ASF case

In a report by the World Organisation for Animal Health last week, South Africa now has a case of ASF outside of its ASF control zone. The announcement was triggered by news of a small pig farm in the country’s North West province where 32 of 36 pigs died. Since this was outside of South Africa’s control zone for the disease, contact with infected wild pigs is suspected.

Luxembourg builds wall to keep ASF out

Add the small country of Luxembourg to a growing number of western European nations that are erecting physical barriers to keep ASF-positive wild pigs from entering their borders. Since it is situated adjacent to the ASF-control zone in neighbouring Belgium, the Luxembourg Army is building a 20-kilometre fence to try to keep its nation free of the costly disease. Meanwhile, similar measures have been taking place in France and Denmark.

Japan, Taiwan continue product seizures

Just as Australian officials showed the world earlier this year, officials in Japan have now done the same when it comes to intercepting ASF-positive food products. Reports cite the recent detection of ASF in two sausages brought into the country by two travellers returning from China. Likewise, Taiwanese officials have now interdicted their 36th meat product infected with ASF which have all come from China.

African swine fever risk calls for action

The global African swine fever (ASF) outbreak in China is wreaking havoc on the international pork industry. Fortunately, ASF is not in the United States at this time, but the possibility of it or another foreign animal disease (FAD), means that American pig farmers must take the necessary steps to protect their farms and the domestic pork industry.

As US pig farmers know, a robust export market is critical to the ongoing success of the nation’s pork industry. In 2018, US pork and pork variety meat exports totalled 5.37 billion pounds valued at $6.392 billion, according to USDA. If an FAD such as ASF entered the United States, it would likely eliminate this entire valuation to zero for an unknown amount of time. Taking steps to prevent it from occurring require immediate action. More information can be found at www.pork.org/fad.