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China battles to control African swine fever

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This photo taken on August 10, 2018 shows a piglet in a pen at a pig farm in Yiyang county, in China's central Henan province. (Photo by AFP)

China has confirmed a new case of African swine fever, in southern Hunan province, marking the 50th outbreak of the highly contagious disease in the world's top pork producer.

The disease, which can be deadly for pigs and has no vaccine, has reached 14 provinces and municipalities in China since it was first detected in early August. Most of the recent cases have been in the south, which has the country's highest pork consumption per capita.

China's agriculture ministry said the latest case was on a small farm of 119 pigs in Baojing county, near the border with Chongqing. It follows two cases reported over the weekend, one in Chongqing municipality, close to Baojing.

China linked feeding kitchen waste to pigs to the majority of the early cases of African swine fever in recent months, but it has not given a cause of the other cases.

Analysts said the country's feed sector might have been contaminated, suggesting risks were high that the disease would continue to spread quickly.

"It is likely that the source of contamination is feed products. The outbreak situation is very severe," said Yao Guiling, an analyst with consultancy China-America Commodity Data Analytics.

Beijing has banned the feeding of kitchen waste to pigs, stepped up controls on the transport of live animals, and ordered a crackdown on slaughterhouses processing sick pigs, among other efforts aimed at controlling the spread of the disease.

Sick animals may still be getting into the food chain, however. Taiwan last week reported that it had found the African swine fever virus in a sausage product made by top processor Shuanghui that had been imported from China.

(Source: Reuters)

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