HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam – Around 1.2 million pigs have been culled in Vietnam due to the risk of being infected with African swine fever, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development said on Monday.
Nguyen Xuan Cuong said during a meeting with officials that so far the virus had spread to 29 provinces, among them Dong Nai in the south, which is the largest supplier of pork in the southeast Asian country, according to news portal Vietnam Biz.
Authorities have warned against the fast spread of the virus and the difficulty in detecting it, resulting in the approval of a series of measures to prevent it from affecting more hog farms.
According to Vietnamese experts, the outbreak spread into the country from neighboring China.
In Hong Kong, 6,000 pigs were culled during the weekend for being infected with the virus.
The African swine fever virus, which is harmless to humans, is a highly infectious disease for pigs and is no vaccine or medical remedy available.
Since the first instances of the virus came to light in China in 2018, the epidemic has spread through the entire country, as well to neighboring Mongolia and Cambodia, besides Vietnam.
In September, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization called a three-day emergency meeting in Bangkok to formulate a regional response to outbreaks of the disease in China in late August.
The meeting brought together veterinary epidemiologists and laboratory experts with others from regulatory agencies for the prevention and control of pests from nine countries neighboring China, all of whom considered that there was a risk of a possible spread of the disease.
Experts came from Myanmar, Cambodia, China, South Korea, Philippines, Japan, Laos, Mongolia, Thailand and Vietnam.
The Regional Manager of the FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases, Wantanee Kalpravidh, said the meeting was aimed at coming to a regional and coordinated response to the outbreak of African swine fever and described the situation as serious.
Experts analyzed the historical background of the spread of the virus which causes the disease in pigs and the possible risks associated with the production and market chain of pig-products.
China produces most of the pork it consumes, although it also imports from other countries like the United States, Spain and Germany.
Beijing authorities culled more than 40,000 pigs, according to FAO, to contain the plague that has had at least five outbreaks in August and which, in its most severe case, leads to the death of the infected animal.
African swine fever, which often affects warthogs, red river hogs (a natural pig species of the Horn of Africa) and ticks – is not contagious to humans, but has threatened the Chinese pig market, which represents more than half of global pork production.