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ASF Hong Kong: First pig farm infected

Hong Kong authorities have culled about 245 pigs on a farm site in the north of the city state, because African Swine Fever (ASF) was discovered there. It is the 1st time that ASF was found on a Hong Kong farm.

The new outbreak was discovered on a 3,200 pig farm in the Yuen Long area, in the north near the mainland China border. It is the 4th time that the virus has been reported in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China. In earlier cases the virus was found in pigs that were imported from mainland China. In those cases batches at slaughterhouses needed to be culled. These all happened at the Sheung Shui slaughterhouse, in May (2x) and September 2019.

According to the US Department of Agriculture's FAS report, another 590 pigs were culled a few days later. This has not been confirmed by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) yet.

The skyline of Hong Kong. - Photo: Shutterstock
The skyline of Hong Kong. - Photo: Shutterstock

Relative quietness with regard to ASF

From China and Hong Kong it has been relatively quiet with regard to African Swine Fever in 2021. The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) only reported one other case to the OIE, that happened on January 21 on a farm in Guangdong province with 1,015 pigs.

So far, 191 official reports have come about African Swine Fever outbreaks from China and Hong Kong since the virus entered the country in August 2018. It is generally believed, however, that this is just a fraction of what really has been happening, but that the virus has been underreported for a multitude of reasons.

It is assumed that 40-50% of the total swine herd in China disappeared due to ASF and subsequent culling. The relative absence of official reports therefore does most likely not mean that the epidemic is over. The discovery of the virus on a farm in Hong Kong actually indicates the opposite.

Currently China is rapidly rebuilding – and have also observed mutations of the ASF virus

News agency Reuters reported that Hong Kong’s Agriculture and Fisheries Department is overseeing an investigation of the outbreak. The department confirmed that the virus was limited to the one farm and that the owner would be compensated.

Hong Kong has about 43 pig farms, accounting for 15% of its live pig supplies, according to a recent report by the US Department of Agriculture.