Is China Exporting African Swine Fever to Russia?
via The Moscow Times - Nov 4, 2019
More than a year after African swine fever began ravaging hogs in China, the virus may be escaping along the same route it’s believed to have entered — via Russia.
While the swine contagion has been present in Russia for 12 years, it’s only been spreading actively in the country’s Far East for the past few months. Authorities have reported almost 60 outbreaks in wild and domestic pigs, most within a few miles of the border with China.
Infected wild boar may be playing a role in cross-border spread, said Dirk Pfeiffer, a professor of veterinary medicine and life sciences at City University of Hong Kong. “Wild boar are very likely to now also be infected in northern China,” Pfeiffer said.
While the Far East accounts for less than 2% of Russia’s swine herd, the virus’s persistence in wayward, wild animals may frustrate attempts to control the disease on both sides of the border. In China, African swine fever has reduced the nation’s pig herd by almost half, causing record-high pork prices and a shakeup of its $118 billion industry.
Experience in Europe with African swine fever has shown that once the disease becomes established in wild pigs, it’s “extremely difficult to control it in both wild and domestic pigs, especially when the wild population is dense and swine production is characterized as extensive, semi-intensive or ‘backyard’,” said Andriy Rozstalnyy, an animal health officer with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome.
“Smuggling of infected pork products, backyard pig-farming, and semi-subsistence hunting could play an important role” in the spread of the virus, Rozstalnyy said in an email.
Rosselkhoznadzor, Russia’s biosecurity watchdog, called for stronger measures to protect the region’s backyard pigs in August, about a month before the virus was found in sausage meat that a Chinese citizen had tried to smuggle across the checkpoint at Zabaykalsk, opposite the Chinese border town of Manzhouli.
The illegal transport of goods, the movement of tourists, and the migration of wild boar all pose disease risks, Rosselkhoznadzor said in an Aug. 5 statement. Additionally, the virus could spread in live pigs, contaminated meat products and crops, it said.
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