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

African Swine Fever in China has Profound Implications


Given that authorities in China do not know the origin of African Swine Fever (ASF) virus other than the fact that it is relative homogenous with strains prevalent in Russia, preventing importation of virus will not be possible.  Little is known of the epidemiology of ASF in China given that it is a very recent introduction.  Specialist from the FAO have speculated that sporadic cases as much as 500 miles apart are due not only to transport of live infected hogs but also contaminated pork products and feed.

Given the structure of the hog industry in China it is highly likely control will be difficult and eradication even impossible.  It is noted that a single introduction of ASF virus into Lisbon in the 1970s on food remnants from an aircraft which traveled from Angola, was responsible for extensive outbreaks both in Portugal and Spain which took a decade to eradicate. An additional risk factor for dissemination of ASF relates to the existence of feral hogs which become reservoirs after introduction of the virus.

The implication of a catastrophic disease in a nation with 600 million hogs and consuming 30 percent of all pork is self-evident. Transparency is an important question although authorities in China have reported over ten outbreaks  of ASF            with accelerating incidence. It is questioned whether the world’s hog and livestock industries can rely on reports from China regarding both human and animal disease outbreaks and egregious deficiencies in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries.


Demonstrating AFS virus in pork products transported from China to South Korea suggests an extensive infection among farms supplying major processing plants. As of the end of August,  authorities in China either have no appreciation of the extent of infection or are not disclosing details.


A significant warning sign relating to eradication of any catastrophic disease is an assurance from any Ministry of Agriculture that control is imminent with a further expression of confidence in the ability to eradicate infection.

Copyright 2019 Simon M. Shane