Close to 5 million pigs lost to Asia’s swine fever outbreak
Almost 5 million pigs in Asia have now died or been culled because of the spread of African swine fever (ASF), a contagious viral disease that affects domestic and wild pigs.
This is according to United Nations’ (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), who has called for stricter cross-border quarantine measures.
While not dangerous to humans, the disease causes up to 100 percent fatality in pigs, leading to severe economic losses to the pig sector.
“As there is no commercially available vaccine, we need to place greater emphasis on other disease counter efforts. Countries must be vigilant at borders – land, sea or air – in preventing the disease’s entrance and spread through the introduction of infected pigs or contaminated pork products. Outbreaks need to be reported immediately,” said FAO’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr.Juan Lubroth.
ASF is currently present in seven Asian countries, namely Cambodia, China, DPR Korea, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Vietnam, and most recently, Myanmar. The latest data provided by FAO indicates that current losses represent more than 10 percent of the total pig population in each of China, Vietnam and Mongolia.
With FAO support, other countries in the region are now ramping up preparedness efforts to prevent further spreading of the disease.
“We are urging at-risk countries to implement effective biosecurity measures to prevent infected live pigs or contaminated pork products from crossing their borders,” he said.
African swine fever was first detected in Africa in the 1920s. On top of the Asian outbreak, Europe is currently experiencing a slowly-spreading epidemic among some of its wild pig population and some countries have introduced tight restrictions to limit the movement of wild pigs.