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African swine fever virus is now ‘endemic’ in China’s Tibet and Xinjiang regions, making its eradication harder, UN says

09:18 17 June 2019 Author :  
  • The virus that causes the African swine fever is now endemic in Tibet and Xinjiang, the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organisation said
  • Diseases that are endemic, or generally present, are harder to stamp out

China’s attempts to control African swine fever have been insufficient to stem further spread of the disease, with the deadly pig contagion now endemic in two regions, a United Nations group said.

The virus that causes the disease is entrenched among pig populations in the autonomous regions of Tibet and Xinjiang, the Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome said in a report Thursday.

Diseases that are endemic, or generally present, are more difficult to stamp out by quarantining and culling diseased and vulnerable livestock.

About 20 per cent of China’s pig inventories may have been culled in the first few months of 2019 amid fears of African swine fever spreading more rapidly, according to the FAO, which is monitoring the disease in cooperation with local authorities and China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

China’s pig production will drop by 134 million heads, or 20 per cent, in 2019, the US Department of Agriculture said last month.

“While official sources confirm a rapid spread of the disease, both the speed and severity of the spread could prove more pronounced than currently assumed,” the FAO said in its report. A government investigation in seven provinces found “irrational culling of sows on breeding farms in February, reducing the sector’s core production capacity.”

Since the first cases were reported last August, 130 outbreaks have been detected in 32 provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities and special administrative regions across the nation, which raises half the world’s pigs.

The FAO report found:

  • In Jilin province, swine inventory fell 28 per cent from the previous year, with some reports pointing to a larger drop In Shandong province, sow numbers fell 41 per cent from July 2018 to February 2019
  • In Guangdong province, hog inventories slumped 20 per cent from a year earlier and pig-feed sales fell 10 per cent to 50 per cent
  • Production of fresh and frozen meat by meatpackers plunged 17 per cent in January and February, compared with the same months in 2018


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