China reports new outbreak of African swine fever

A fresh outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) has occurred in China, the country’s department of agriculture has said.

According to a report from Reuters news organisation, the outbreak occurred on a farm with 102 pigs in the Sichuan province in the southwest of the country.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said that 21 pigs on the farm had been infected and killed by the outbreak.

The highly contagious disease has also been detected beyond China. Traces of the virus have been discovered in a number of European countries, with infected animals being culled, mainly in eastern Europe.

It comes just a week after it was revealed traces of ASF were also discovered in illegal meat that was seized in Northern Ireland airports.

The virus entered the Czech Republic in a similar way, where it was then transmitted to the country’s wild boar population.

More than 300kg of illegal meat and dairy products, detected in passenger luggage, has been seized by Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) portal officials at Northern Ireland’s airports during June 2019.

A sample of these seizures was tested at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) resulting in the detection of ASF DNA fragments.

A spokesman for the department said that while this type of discovery in itself does not pose a significant threat to the animal health status of Northern Ireland or affect the region’s disease-free status from ASF, it does reinforce the importance of the controls on personal imports of meat and dairy products enforced by DAERA officials.