HONG KONG – In China and Vietnam, millions of pigs are killed in an attempt to stop the spread of African swine fever, and cases of disease have already been reported in six Asian countries.
About 2.8 million pigs, representing about 10 percent of herds in Vietnam, were destroyed in Southeast Asia, state media reported this week. According to officials the disease spread to larger agricultural facilities.
In China, the world's largest producer of pork meat, about 1.1 million pigs have been destroyed, and authorities claim that cases have been found in 32 areas.
Calculation of the total outbreak effect on the Chinese herd is difficult, Dutch analyst Rabobank announced this month, pointing out that "estimated losses range from 20 to 70 percent."
The bank, which put a Chinese herd on the estimated 360 million animals at the end of last year, projected in April that 150 million to 200 million would die, either after contracting an African swine fever or for extinction.
Severe viral disease, which has no known vaccine or drug, affects domestic and wild pigs but is harmless to humans. Since it was first reported in August 2018 in the Chinese province of Liaoning, it was found in animals in Laos, Mongolia, Cambodia and North Korea, along with Vietnam, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Mongolia and Cambodia allegedly destroyed several thousand pigs in their efforts to keep it.
This question should be "given priority within the highest levels of government," the FAO says.
However, according to Dirk Pfeiffer, a veterinary epidemiologist from City University in Hong Kong, suppression of the epidemic will not be easy.
"If you do not have a vaccine and you have a virus that survives so well in the environment, combined with the immense density of pigs that are mostly kept in low biological conditions," he said, "stopping the spread of viruses is a huge challenge."