Rome: The rapid onset of African Swine Fever in China — the country’s first reported outbreak — and its detection in areas more than 1,000km apart, could mean the deadly virus may spread to other Asian countries anytime, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned, urging regional cooperation to guard against the disease.
“Outbreaks such as this one are important reminders to us all that we must work together in a multilateral and inter-governmental effort to prevent and respond to outbreaks of animal diseases because these diseases know no borders,” said Kundhavi Kadiresan, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific.
“Good communication and coordination with the region’s private sector is essential to strengthen cooperation in ASF prevention and control,” she added.
There is no effective vaccine to protect swine from the highly contagious disease which also infects wild boar but not humans. Outbreaks can be devastating with the most virulent forms lethal in 100 per cent of infected animals, FAO said.
There are increased fears that the disease will move across borders to neighbouring countries of Southeast Asia or the Korean Peninsula where trade and consumption of pork products is also high, FAO warned.
Chinese authorities have culled more than 24,000 pigs in four provinces in efforts to control the spread of the disease, FAO reported.
“The movement of pig products can spread diseases quickly and, as in this case of ASF, it’s likely that the movement of such products, rather than live pigs, has caused the spread of the virus to other parts of China,” explained Juan Lubroth, FAO’s Chief Veterinarian.