China is ramping up measures to contain the spread of African swine fever (ASF) in its pigs, after a fourth outbreak was discovered in Wenzhou in eastern Zhejiang province.
The first outbreak of ASF was reported on 3 August when a number of pigs died in Shenyang, Liaoning province.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has mobilised inspectors and agricultural officers across the country to control the spread, which is lethal to pigs but does not affect humans. So far, at least 25,000 pigs have been culled. Though this is a small number in view of China’s overall herd of 380 million pigs, there is unease that the virus could affect supplies of a staple food, reported the South China Morning Post.
On Sunday, Shandong province announced that it has banned live hogs and related products from areas of high risk from entering the province, reported Reuters. The eastern province will step up inspection of pigs and products being transported within the region, and also strengthen quarantine on slaughtering of hogs, said its animal husbandry bureau.
Preventing hogs from infected areas from travelling into the coastal province, which is the country’s fourth-largest pork producer and almost twice the size of Austria, will be a major challenge that could potentially disrupt established trade routes.
Shandong is surrounded by two ASF-infected provinces, Henan and Jiangsu. Trucks carrying pigs from the Northeast usually travel through Shandong to slaughterhouses in the south.
The prohibition would also prevent slaughterhouses and factories from using pigs or pork from affected regions.
China’s southern Hunan province, the third-largest pork producer, has also increased inspections and monitoring of live hogs and related products transported across provinces, the local government said in a statement last Thursday.