China pig disease caused by new strain
A pig disease that affected millions of pigs in 10 provinces in China was
caused by a new and highly pathogenic strain of blue ear disease. Initially it
was thought that a normal PRRS virus was causing the disease.
The new virus strain spread very quickly, resulting in "unparalleled
large-scale outbreaks" and caused high fever (40-42 degrees Celsius), shivering
and a reddish rash brought on by congestion in the blood capillaries, the
scientists wrote. "To our surprise, many grown pigs also died during this
epidemic period, which is unlike the case for typical PRRS virus infection," the
Using genetic analyses, the
scientists discovered changes in the molecular structure of the virus which made
it unusually aggressive. "Environmental factors such as temperature and relative
humidity in the summer and secondary bacterial infections may contribute to the
generation of highly virulent PRRS," they said.
China has stepped up its
fight against the virus, which has caused enormous economic losses and
contributed to soaring domestic pork prices, even feeding into national
inflation levels. It launched a vaccination campaign last week.
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