Deadly swine virus in south-west China threatens Asian neighbours

Piglets standing in a pen at a pig farm in China's central Henan province. Due to the swine virus, some countries have taken border measures to control people, animals, and products coming from China.
Piglets standing in a pen at a pig farm in China's central Henan province. Due to the swine virus, some countries have taken border measures to control people, animals, and products coming from China.PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) - Animal health authorities in South-east Asia have beefed up border surveillance for African swine fever after a third outbreak of the deadly pig virus was reported in China's south-western Yunnan province.

The fast-spreading virus was found in a "backyard" operation last week in Guanfang village, within about 200km of China's border with Myanmar and Laos and near Thailand.

Some countries have taken measures at the border to control the introduction of people, animals, and products from China, said Laure Weber-Vintzel, the Bangkok-based deputy regional representative for the World Organisation for Animal Health.

"The virus is spreading extremely quickly in China, highlighting the challenge controlling the transportation of pigs and pork products," Weber-Vintzel said on Wednesday (Nov 7) in a telephone interview.

"Infected pork products play an important role in disease spread and should not be underestimated."

The outbreaks in Yunnan "probably represent an increased risk" because of their proximity to the border, and add to the threat of international spread already posed by the movement of humans who carry the virus in contaminated pork products "which can be transported over long distances", she said.

Fourteen Chinese provinces have reported infected pigs since the disease began spreading there in August.

Chinese veterinary officials have attempted to control the movement of livestock, increased disease surveillance, screened animals, quarantined affected farms and tried to trace the source of infection, according to a Nov 1 report prepared by Zhang Zhongqiu, the director-general of the China Animal Disease Control Centre, to the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health, also known as the OIE.