The recent bout of African swine fever cases in a number of Chinese provinces has attracted the attention of the United Nations’ food safety authority, the Financial Times reports, which is concerned that the virus could spread to neighbouring Asian countries.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation met in Bangkok on Wednesday, inviting industry experts from China and a handful of bordering nations to discuss plans on how to tackle the growing problem. While non-fatal to humans, ASF’s lethal effect on pigs poses a large threat to the region’s pork industry.
“It’s critical that this region be ready for the very real possibility that ASF could jump the border into other countries,” said Wantanee Kalpravidh, Asia’s regional manager for the FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases. “That’s why this emergency meeting has been convened.”
China, responsible for rearing about half of the world’s pigs every year, has recorded eight separate outbreaks of the disease in several non-contiguous regions of the country. Officials in Beijing, in response, have ordered for the culling of up to 40,000 hogs to date.