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·         Pig Deaths on Russian Border Suggest China’s Outbreak Is Spreading

·         'Biggest threat to raising of pigs we've ever seen' - Quarter of all pigs could die of swine fever, scientists warn



Pig Deaths on Russian Border Suggest China’s Outbreak Is Spreading


Jason Gale, Bloomberg

via Yahoo Finance - November 1, 2019


(Bloomberg) -- 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.


‘High Risk’


“The current unfavorable African swine fever situation in the People’s Republic of China leads to a high risk of infection in the border regions of the Russian Federation and neighboring countries,” Rosselkhoznadzor said.


The warning followed the deaths a week earlier of a sow and two boars on a farm in Primorsky, the province of which Vladivostok is the administrative center. Since then, 275 pigs have died and 2,473 have been killed and disposed of in 59 outbreaks in the Primorsky, Amur, and Jewish Autonomous regions, according to data Russian authorities submitted to the World Organization for Animal Health in Paris.


Still, outbreak incidence data in Asia are incomplete and don’t fully explain the burden of disease, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Rozstalnyy said, adding that it’s “a challenge to organize reliable surveillance and accurate diagnostics in these remote areas.”


It’s also difficult to determine the source of the outbreaks, said Denis Kolbasov, the director of the Federal Research Center of Virology and Microbiology, near Pokrov, Russia. Some genetic studies of African swine fever viruses circulating in China have found similarities with strains in Eastern Europe and Russia, pointing to a likely source.


‘Mutual Exchange’ …





'Biggest threat to raising of pigs we've ever seen' - Quarter of all pigs could die of swine fever, scientists warn Newsdesk (Ireland)

October 31 2019


Around a quarter of the world's pigs are expected to die from African swine fever as authorities grapple with a complex disease spreading rapidly in the globalisation era, the World Organisation for Animal Health said.


A sharp reduction in the world's pig population would lead to possible food shortages and high pork prices, and might also cause shortfalls in the many products made from pigs, such as the blood-thinner heparin used in humans, said Mark Schipp, the organisation's president.


The disease's spread in the past year to countries including China, which has half the world's pigs, had inflamed a worldwide crisis, Dr Schipp told reporters at a briefing in Sydney.


"I don't think the species will be lost, but it's the biggest threat to the commercial raising of pigs we've ever seen," he said.


"And it's the biggest threat to any commercial livestock of our generation."


African swine fever, fatal to hogs but no threat to humans, has wiped out pig herds in many Asian countries. Chinese authorities have destroyed about 1.2 million pigs in an effort to contain the disease since August 2018.


The price of pork has nearly doubled from a year ago in China, which produces and consumes two-thirds of the world's pork. China's efforts to buy pork abroad, as well as smaller outbreaks in other countries, are pushing up global prices.


"There are some shortages in some countries, and there's been some substitutions using other sources of protein, which is driving up the prices of other proteins," said Dr Schipp.


Progress has been made towards a vaccine, but Dr Schipp, who is Australia's chief veterinary officer, said the work is challenging because the virus itself is large and has a complex structure. He said a big step forward was the announcement last week that scientists had unravelled the 3D structure of the virus.


African swine fever is spread by contact among pigs, through contaminated fodder and by ticks. It originated in South Africa and appeared in Europe in the 1960s. A recent reappearance in western Europe came from wild pigs transferred into Belgian forests for hunting purposes.


Its capacity to spread rapidly is shown by its spread from China in the past year, Dr Schipp said. Mongolia, the Korean peninsula, south-east Asia and East Timor have had outbreaks.


He said the spread reflects the global movement of pork and people but also the effect of tariffs and trade barriers, which sends those obtaining pork to seek out riskier sources. Dr Schipp said quality control is difficult for products such as skins for sausages, salamis and similar foods.


"Those casing products move through multiple countries," he said...