China says battling swine fever is "complex and challenging"

Desiree Burns
September 16, 2018

African Swine Fever (ASF) is a contagious viral disease affecting pigs and wild boars, but not humans.

According to Politico, the arrival of ASF in Western Europe has always been the worst fear for many in the pork industry, in part because it could mean import bans from key non-EU markets.

African swine fever virus, 3D illustration.

"The last cases in Europe could be the result of the introduction of scraps of food abandoned by travellers coming from infected areas" further east, explained to the competent authorities to the press agency Belga.

Although the disease reached mainland Europe in 2007, it only breached the European Union in 2014 in the Baltic States and Poland. African swine fever can lead to severe hemorrhagic or bleeding among the affected pigs that usually leads to death of the animals.

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However, no pig farms have yet been infected in the country. "Biosecurity in pig farms is essential and the FASFC ensures that it is permanently properly insured".

Mandy Nevel, veterinary manager with Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) which offers support to Britain's food producers, said: "It is extremely concerning that African Swine Fever has been identified in Belgium".

"The confirmation today of the presence of the virus in Belgium (in the west of the EU) represents a new progression of the disease, which requires an adequate response given the considerable economic interests at stake for the French agri-food chain", the farm ministry said in a statement.

Stéphane Travert, Minister of Agriculture and Food, has asked the authorities in the regions bordering Belgium - Ardennes, Meuse, Moselle and Meurthe and Moselle - to implement the "strengthened action plan specific to this disease", under the coordination of DGAL (General Directorate of Food) to prevent the introduction of the virus into France.

China reported its first case of the disease in August in the northeastern Liaoning Province, and later the outbreaks were reported in several other provinces. This is close to the Russian border where the infection is spreading for some years now say authorities.

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