African Swine Fever Continues to Spread
As of early 2019, China has reported more than 100 cases of African swine fever (ASF) in 19 provinces and four municipalities, including Beijing, for a total of 23 distinct geographic areas. Recent outbreaks have been reported in Guangdong and Fujian provinces. However, a new case in the north’s Heilongjiang province has affected a farm with 73,000 pigs, the largest farm yet to report a case of the deadly disease.
On December 25, Chinese officials announced the detection of ASF virus in some protein powders made using pork blood manufactured by a Tianjin-based company. The raw materials for the batches were from 12 slaughter and processing plants in Tianjin. The new ASF case occurred despite the farm banning the use of food waste and pig blood as raw materials in the production of feed for pigs, in a bid to halt the spread of the disease.
In a related move, China recently announced that slaughterhouses will need to run a test for ASF virus on pig products before selling them. Slaughterhouses must slaughter the pigs from different origins separately. They can only sell the products if blood of the same batch of pigs is tested negative for African swine fever virus. If an ASF outbreak is found, slaughterhouses must cull all pigs to be slaughtered and suspend operations for at least 48 hours, according to the regulation, which will go into effect February 1.
Belgium’s ASF-Infected Herd Nearing France
Even with government intervention against the spread of African swine fever (ASF) in Belgium’s wild boar herd, authorities think it’s just a matter of time before the disease makes its way across the country’s far southern border into neighboring France. Currently, infected wild pigs could be as close as 3 kilometers from the French border, which is within the distance the disease can travel in one month in infected wild populations. For their part, the French have stepped up surveillance on their side of the border and also have built fences at the border to keep wild boars from entering the country.
According to Walloon Agriculture Minister René Collin, control measures are still being applied in the 69,000-acre (28,000-hectare) ASF vigilance zone. As of December 17, 594 wild boars had been collected, including 499 in the infected perimeter. Of these, 205 carcasses were found to be positive for virulent virus.
The zone won’t have specific biosecurity conditions nor restrictions on traffic, forestry work, and game hunting (apart from wild boar). However, getting rid of all boars in the area and transporting them to two collection centers will be necessary. In addition, people with a hunting license in the affected area will organize at least three collective hunting days in January and February to help reduce the wild boar population.