China’s most populous and one of the more well-known provinces, Guangdong, has reported its 1st outbreak of African Swine Fever. In doing so, it is the 23rd province to report an outbreak of the viral disease.
Rumours about Guangdong being affected had already dominated the Web for a few days, but on December 19 it was confirmed: African Swine Fever was found in a slaughterhouse in Zhuhai city, which literally is around the corner of the autonomous region of Macao and 50 km from Hong Kong.
Guangdong is home to cities like Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Illustration: 123RF
Guangdong: A large province for pork
Guangdong alone is home to almost 109 million inhabitants, with many well-known large cities like Guangzhou and Shenzhen. In terms of population size the province is only a touch smaller than the Philippines. All in all, a major market for pork consumption.
The virus was confirmed in a slaughterhouse in Zhuhai’s Xiangzhou District, according to the Chinese Ministry for Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA). In total 11 animals in a batch of 50 had died. The remaining 39 have been culled.
No other ASF outbreaks in the wide surroundings
The location of this Guangdong outbreak is remarkable – just like the confirmed outbreak in Qinghai province last week, there is no reported case of African Swine Fever in the wide surroundings. The closest places the virus has been found so far were in Guizhou and Fujian provinces, both at 650 km distance when measured in a straight line.
The ministry also reported a 2nd outbreak of ASF in Chongqing municipality, which follows a first outbreak in early November. This time the case was found on a backyard farm of 23 pigs, of which 8 had died.
The total number of reported cases is now 97, although it is considered likely that the real number of outbreaks is much higher. On farms directly affected with ASF, in total already over 250,000 pigs have died or been culled according to official figures. In the wider context of prevention wider spread, the total amount of culled animals is even approaching 650,000 in the latest figures by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Crack down on illegal slaughtering
MARA also announced a series of measures to fight the virus. This week, MARA launched campaign to crack down on illegal slaughtering, news agency Reuters reported. Alternatively, more large-scale pig slaughterhouses need to be built, according to the ministry. The campaign will last from December until May next year, with inspections of pig slaughterhouses being strengthened.
On December 10, the agricultural ministry banned the raising of pigs in wild boar areas as well, in order to prevent the spread. Again, press agency Reuters reported about it. Interestingly, the ministry stated that the virus found in wild boar in Jilin province in November was a different strain of virus than the one found in domestic pigs.
Worries in Vietnam about ASF outbreaks
Also in neighbouring Vietnam, anxiety is growing about the spread of African Swine Fever in China. Reuters reported that in early December, Vietnamese authorities conducted drills to prevent the spread of ASF should there be an outbreak of the disease in the country. Although densely populated with swine, so far, no outbreaks of the viral disease have been officially confirmed there.