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ASF Diagnosed on J-V Farm in China


According to a Reuters release on January 3rd authorities in China have disclosed that a farm holding 73,000 hogs including 15,000 breeding stock was diagnosed with African swine fever (ASF). The operation located in Suihua, Heilongjiang Province, is a joint venture between Heilongjiang Asia-Europe Animal Husbandry a subsidiary of the Zhejiang Rural Development Group and minority shareholder IFU of Denmark. The facility had the potential to produce close to 400,000 commercial hogs annually and the loss of the parent-level stock following depletion will impact future pork output from the Province.


That the outbreak was in fact reported is attributed more to foreign equity involvement and the magnitude of the loss rather than any newfound commitment to transparency by the Government of China. To date more than 100 farms in 23 provinces and municipalities have been affected with more than 200,000 hogs depleted. This figure may represent a deliberate under-count.


China has been slow to marshal resources to control the widespread and highly contagious disease. An initial directive was to quarantine infected farms and to ban feeding of swill. These measures are considered impossible to enforce in rural areas with a large number of family-operated subsistence smallholdings. A commentator noted “policies are good but the increasing outbreaks show that there might be some problem with execution at the local government level”


More recent “control” measures are inexplicable with regard to a current understanding of the epidemiology of ASF and experience with proven control  measures. The Agricultural Ministry is requiring processing plants to “test pork products for ASF before selling them to the market” This is nonsense as ASFv is not transmissible to humans and presumes that if dead or clinically affected hogs are delivered to processing plants they were infected before consignment and resulted in dissemination of ASFv during transport. The ‘test-in-plant’ policy is a confirmation of the reality that as soon as clinical signs appear in a herd it is consigned to slaughter. The point at which hogs should be tested is at the farm before transport to an abattoir.  Other less than meaningful regulations are due to be introduced on February 1st, exactly four days before the Lunar New Year. The delay and upsurge in processing preceding the heaviest consumption period of the year will contribute to a high incidence rate and extension to as yet unaffected Provinces and jurisdictions.