The rapid spread of African swine fever (ASF) throughout China and other regions of the world has raised concerns the disease will ultimately make its way to the US — a development that could cripple the nation’s pork industry if it doesn’t adequately prepare.
That was the ominous warning of three US swine veterinarians who came together for a roundtable discussion on ASF following their recent trip to China. Among them was Dr. John Deen from the University of Minnesota, coming back from the Leman China conference.
This report was published by the Swine Health Information Center and prepared by the University of Minnesota.
On September 14th, the OIE official report of the 1st ASF case in Belgium was released, confirming our previous report. On Saturday, 15th, the Federal Agriculture minister confirmed three new cases in the same area of the initial report, identified in wild boars found dead in the city of Etalle (Luxembourg province), near the border with France.
On Friday evening, a multisectoral meeting took place in Belgium, where the farming, meat and animal feed sectors asked for priority measures against the spread of African Swine Fever to be in place. In the joint statement coming from that meeting, they draw up five possible critical needs/measures to mitigate the disease spreading: a European plan to define and maintain the affected zone; the creation of a committee dedicated to the export of meat and pork products; a regulated slaughtering and butchering method for pigs in the area which is under tight surveillance; a realistic and feasible plan to reduce the boar population in the country; and finally the creation of a crisis communication committee.
Arrangements are being done to ban the movement, hunting and feeding of wild boars in the region to control the spread of the disease by human interaction. An investigation and monitoring program is being implemented, with the support of European experts.
With the reporting of two new outbreaks today (September 14th), unofficially, there have been 21 ASF outbreaks reported in China. The last two reported outbreaks included (a) 16 hogs with sudden death in the Inner Mongolian Province, and (b) a farm in Henan Province, with 148 infected pigs and 43% fatality rate. Officially, however, the OIE WAHIS platform still reports only 19 outbreaks in six provinces (Figures 1 and 2). Although the cause of ASF introduction into China remains unclear, in March, 2018, FAO alerted for the risk of introduction of ASF into the country by illegal introduction of animals or food. There are also concerns that, similarly to what has been reported in Europe, wild boars may play a role in the spread of the disease.
Approximately 40,500 pigs have been culled since the beginning of the epidemic, with mortality rates that varied between 0 and 23.17% (Figure 1). The Chinese government reported checking pigs in thousands of sites, which may have resulted in the increase of the identification of new outbreaks. In an attempt to contain the spread of the disease, all transport of live animals from infected provinces is restricted, feed policy is being adjusted to the current scenario, and the logistics of the industry and the Chinese market are being reviewed. On September 13th, the use of food waste and pig blood as feed for pigs in ASF-infected and neighboring provinces was banned. Also, testing pig feed to ASF will be required, and positive samples will trigger destruction of the whole batch of feed.
China is considering to import meat from other markets, including the European Union, that in 2017 faced an intense decline in pork exports. US hog market is also currently facing a low price market, however with expansion in number of sows and pork produced. International trade is at risk once ASF is spreading rapidly into consolidated markets like Europe and China, and concerns are growing around the globe.
There is now a second case of African swine fever (ASF) in China. It was found in a slaughterhouse where 30 pigs died of ASF. The slaughterhouse is located in the city of Zhengzhou in the Henan province. The pigs came from Tangyuan district of the city of Jiamusi, in the Heilongjiang province, over 500 miles to northeast of the first reported herd, which was detected approximately two weeks ago.
By road, the distance from the farm to the slaughterhouse is approximately 1,400 miles, travelling through areas with high pig density. The slaughterhouse is a large commercial facility, owned by Shuanghui, part of the WH Group, the world’s largest pork producer.
Government officials are moving quickly to try to isolate the disease. The slaughterhouse has been closed with a no movement zone within a radius of approximately of 6 miles and a zone of 2 miles for destroying all pigs.
This news outbreak signals that there may be a number of concerns about the status of ASF in China. The distance between the original detection in Shenyang and this newly identified farm, as well as slaughterhouse, shows that the disease is being transported widely. The areas of concern now involve multiple Chinese provinces and heighten the likelihood of further cases.
4 key locations: Red dot, new ASF outbreak reported in slaughterhouse is located in the city of Zhengzhou in the Henan province; blue: first ASF outbreak reported in a small pig farm in district of Shenbei New, in the province of Liaoning; green dot: farm (owner Wang) located in the Hunnan District, Shenyang city, Liaoning province; purple: Tangyuan district of the city of Jiamusi, in the Heilongjiang province.
The first ASF case was officially confirmed on Aug 3, 2018 on a small farm (owner Zhang) located in the Shenbei District, Shenyang city, Liaoning province. Further investigations indicated that the owner of the ASF index farm purchased 45 pigs on July 5, 2018 from a farm (owner Wang) located in the Hunnan District, Shenyang city, Liaoning province. Fecal samples collected from Wang’s farm were confirmed ASFV RNA positive by PCR.
Wang said that the last entry of pigs onto the farm occurred on March 24, 2018. There were 100 piglets purchased from Chuanying District, Jilin city, Jilin province. In April, some pigs started to become sick and then died on the Wang farm. Wang did not report the abnormal pig death; instead the remaining live pigs were sold to the Zhang farm in Shenyang and other people. So far, all of the pigs initially from the Wang farm have been tracked and culled. Wang was held in a detention center due to violation of the laws.