Blue-ear disease in China now 'serious'
Blue-ear disease has swept through 25 of China's 33
provinces and regions, causing thousands of dead pigs and driving up pork
Chinese officials have put the number of dead pigs from blue-ear disease at
156,000 in the past three months, but unconfirmed reports said millions of pigs
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) called
the outbreak "serious" and is monitoring its development.
knows exactly how many pigs are sick," Guo Fusheng, an FAO scientist, said.
"This disease is really complicated. Most cases have a second infection with
The quickly spreading disease has also hit Vietnam,
affecting seven of the country's 64 provinces.
Blue-ear disease, also
known as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), is usually not deadly to pigs, but Guo said the
reason for the large number of deaths and the virus' speedy spread is its
changing nature. The virus infecting pigs now is different from the virus first
isolated in the 1990s, he said.
government has carried out culls to try to control the disease, but they - along
with low pork prices in the past few years - have contributed to pig farmers
leaving the business. The result has been less pork produced and rising prices
The government has reacted with programmes aimed at
raising pork production, including free immunizations, subsidies for farmers hit
by culls and contributing to sow insurance.
In Vietnam, blue-ear disease has been reported mostly in the
centre of the country but also in the Mekong Delta, said Hoang Van Nam, deputy
head of the Animal Health Department.
In all, an estimated 40,000
pigs have been infected with the disease out of 27 million pigs in Vietnam, Nam
Not enough pigs have died to cause a shortage of pork, but the
price of pork actually dropped because some local residents were wary of eating
potentially diseased meat although government officials announced that the
disease poses no threat in cooked meat.
The disease appears to have stopped spreading in Vietnam with
two of the affected provinces reporting no new cases for more than two weeks,
said Tran Trong Them, deputy director of the Vietnam Animal Husbandry
"It happened in a small number of localities and the
disease is under control now," Them said.
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