8,000 pigs culled as African Swine Fever confirmed in China

Mass pig culling has begun in China after African Swine Fever (ASF) has been confirmed in nearly 50 domesticated pigs.

The Chinese authorities reported an outbreak of the disease in the Liaoning region, north-east China on August 3.

According to the disease report, clinical signs were first observed on August 1 in 47 animals. This is the first time that ASF has been reported in China.

To constrain further spread, pigs within a 3km radius of the farm have been culled. As of Monday (August 6), 8,116 pigs were reported to have been culled.

So far, there have been a small number of isolated outbreaks in central Russia, north of Kazakhstan and Mongolia, approximately 1,000km from the border with China.

China is home to about half of the global pig population, with thousands of backyard and large-scale farms operating in the northern, central and southern regions.

The country produces about half of the world’s pork; however, is also one of the biggest consumers of pig meat.

A UK Government report stated that the detection of the disease represents a “new jump” in geographic spread. The report added that the origin of the outbreak is currently unknown.

“It is also unknown at present whether this represents the index case. China carries out early warning surveillance in this region, however, it is focussed on large commercial pig farms, rather than the small semi-commercial and backyard sectors,” it added.

Smallholding farmers are less likely to have high standards of food safety or strong biosecurity in place to prevent the virus entering the population. A large wild boar population will promote persistence and spread.

Disease control measures are in place including culling affected and susceptible animals.

The outbreak is China is of negligible risk to UK pig herds.

Currently, China is not approved for the import of fresh or frozen pig meat to the EU, however, some animal feed products are imported from China.