AFRICAN SWINE FEVER THREATENS HOG POPULATION OF CHINA
African swine fever (ASF) is re-emerging in China and neighboring countries, threatening to upend efforts to replenish national herds after the virus zapped tens of millions of pigs in China and other nations and created a huge shortage of meat protein.
Fresh outbreaks have been reported in China and Vietnam this year, and the disease has even landed on Malaysia’s shores.
While new cases are scattered and isolated, they’ve put governments on notice that the virus is alive and well and there could be dire consequences if it’s not kept under control, Jasmine Ng, Shuping Niu, Mai Ngoc Chau, Heesu Lee, Anuradha Raghu and Randy Thanthong-Knight reported for Bloomberg News.
ASF is deadly for pigs but not known to harm humans. With no commercial vaccine available yet, authorities are relying on strict biosecurity measures and the culling of susceptible animals to keep the disease in check.
China, home to half the world’s hogs, is the hardest hit by ASF since reporting its first outbreak in 2018. More cases of the virus, which the country thought was under control, have been found in places such as Hebei, Henan, Sichuan, Yunnan and Xinjiang. Hong Kong also reported a case on a farm.
With the ASF outbreak, China has earned the dubious distinction of hosting the deadly COVID-19 virus that has killed millions of people worldwide and the ASF, which has killed millions of hogs.
The latest outbreak includes new variants that are milder but harder to detect, casting doubts over the government's goal of achieving a full herd recovery by mid-year. The country’s progress on rebuilding pig numbers is being closely watched by global traders as it will define import needs for feed grains and meat this year.
China bought record amounts of soybeans, corn and meat from overseas suppliers in 2020, triggering price spikes across the board.