China Said African Swine Fever Was Stable. Then Cases Climbed Again.

Underreporting of disease that in 2019 killed about 25% of world’s hogs is rampant, USDA says


By Lucy Craymer, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ)

April 28, 2020


As China has largely brought the coronavirus pandemic under control within its borders, another highly contagious disease—one affecting livestock—is reappearing and raising questions about the accuracy of the country’s reporting.


For about four months from mid-November last year, pig farms in China reported no new cases of African swine fever, the deadly hemorrhagic disease that last year resulted in the loss of around 120 million hogs in the country. Chinese authorities said in February that the epidemic situation was stable.


Since mid-March, China’s Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs has reported a spate of new cases across the country, supporting what some independent veterinary and farming consultants have been saying since late 2019: The disease is still rife.


China’s Agriculture Ministry didn’t respond to requests for comment.


“Underreporting is rampant as government agencies at all levels face serious challenges in collecting and reporting outbreak information from swine farms,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in an April report on China’s livestock sector. “Some farms are reluctant to report outbreaks for fear of economic losses, while others report being actively discouraged” from disclosing cases of African swine fever, it added...


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