African Swine Fever marches on

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

African Swine Fever marches on

Related tags Pork African swine fever Us China Uk Livestock

African Swine Fever (ASF) is expected to result in the deaths of a quarter of the pigs globally and there may be nothing we can do about it.

Speaking to the Associated Press​, World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) president Dr. Mark Schipp, said ASF was the biggest threat to commercial livestock product.

“I don’t think the species will be lost, but it’s the biggest threat to the commercial raising of pigs we’ve ever seen,”​ he said. “And it’s the biggest threat to any commercial livestock of our generation.”

The disease was recorded in China for the first time in August 2018​, and since then there’s been no stopping its path. It has since been confirmed in every province in China as well as Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

It has also hit much of Europe, moving as far west as Belgium​ although it hasn’t been found in the production herd yet. Schipp claimed that scientists had unravelled the 3D structure of the virus which he says is a major step forward in curbing the disease but so far no vaccine has proven to be effective.

There’s also the countries that haven’t had a confirmed case yet. In October, Australia deported an individual when biosecurity officers discovered undeclared pork and food items in their luggage, showing just how seriously they’re taking the disease. During the summer, food with traces of ASF was found and destroyed in Northern Ireland. In Global Meat News’ recent webinar, National Pig Association chief executive Zoe Davies outlined the impact on the UK’s pork sector should ASF reach the shores.

And then there’s the US. One of the major exporters of pork in the world, it stands to lose a lot if ASF reaches it. Already some US pork processors are adapting their practices​ to take advantage of falling pork stocks in China so if the US was suddenly unable to export, it would be devastating. Of course, some believe that it’s already hit the US​ but not the production herd making any preventative measures moot.

For more on ASF, you can still listen to the webinar, African Swine Fever: A Global Epidemic, by registering here​. The webinar was kindly sponsored by Alltech Inc and Celitron Medical Technologies.

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