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Email Content: Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

African Swine Fever Situation Deteriorates in China


Two reports during the week ending Friday November 16th and subsequent items indicated  deterioration in the African swine fever (ASF) situation in China.  To date 60 outbreaks have been documented in 18 provinces since the index case in early August.


Until this past week, Sichuan Province was unaffected.  African swine fever was diagnosed on a smallholding with 40 hogs in Yibin City in the Southeast of the Province.  Sichuan produces 66 million hogs out of the total output in China of 700 million in 2017.The Province has an 80 lb. per capita consumption of pork.


Despite bans on importation of live hogs and hogs products, ASF obviously crossed over into Sichuan from adjoining Juizhou Province where cases were recently diagnosed. On November 16th, Thomson Reuters reported isolation of ASF virus from a dead wild boar in Bastian City in Jilting Province in Northeastern China.  Emergence of ASF among feral swine represents a serious change in the epidemiology of infection and will complicate control and almost certainly prevent eradication in the intermediate term.  Endemic infection in a mild clinical form among wild hogs will constitute regional reservoirs.  The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that there are more than 40 million wild hogs in China.


Authorities in China have imposed quarantines over affected small farms. Feeding swill containing potentially infective material has been banned.  Unfortunately authorities do not have the resources to effectively implement control measures on other than large production units.


The fact that the price of pork is rising in Provinces characterized by high consumption suggests that the public is not concerned over acquiring the infection.  This is not the case with avian influenza affecting broiler flocks since sharp drops in consumption follow announcements of infection.  The rise in prices for live hogs and pork will only complicate control since there will be a greater incentive to smuggle products and to defy quarantines and restrictions on movement.


Based on persistence of African swine fever following introduction into the Iberian Peninsula in the early 1960’s and the most recent outbreaks in Russia and Eastern Europe it is inevitable that ASF will become endemic in China and possibly spread to other Asian nations.  The only effective control measure will be the development and introduction of an effective vaccine.  Given homogeneity of ASF virus isolated from early cases in China with ASF virus from outbreaks in Eastern Europe, a vaccine which is effective against sero-group A should provide protection. In the interim since the virus appears to be transmitted in feed, as with the coronavirus causing porcine epidemic diarrhea, inclusion of dietary organic acid supplements to inactive ASF virus would be a worthwhile precaution.



It is inevitable that introduction of ASF into China will profoundly impact the structure of the industry, disfavoring small family farms in favor of large self-contained units capable of implementing effective biosecurity, vaccination and the efficiencies associated with economies of scale.

Copyright 2019 Simon M. Shane