African swine fever threatens the People's Republic of China: FAO conducts a rapid risk assessment


On March 27, 2017, the Russian Federation reported an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in Siberia (Irkutsk). This event raised great concern about its proximity to the Mongolian (around 300 km) and Chinese (around 1000 km) borders in a new area thousands of kilometers from the previous outbreaks. The introduction of the disease into the People’s Republic of China would have devastating consequences for animal health, food safety and food security.


In March 2018 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) published a qualitative risk assessment to determine the risk of introduction of ASF into the People’s Republic of China from infected countries.


Internal and external experts, participating in this risk assessment identified the risk pathways, the likelihood of domestic pigs’ exposure to the virus, its potential further spread, and the likely persistence of the disease if and once introduced.


Specifically, the experts identified transport-associated routes as most relevant pathways of ASF introduction into China, followed by illegal imports of food, especially for the northern and eastern regions of China. Wild boar population density was identified the most relevant factor in the spread of the disease once introduced in the Country, meanwhile the presence of wild boar populations interacting with susceptible domestic species, and lack of biosecurity in smallholdings could contribute to the disease persistence and the endemization.


In response to the geographical expansion of the disease in Europe in the last few years, FAO has long been working to the issues concerning ASF. In 2017, FAO published a manual on ASF detection and diagnosis. The full document can be accessed and downloaded at the following address


Daniela Morelli

National Reference Centre for Risk Analysis
Armando Giovannini

Paolo Calistri

Statistics and GIS
Annamaria Conte



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