Update on the epidemiological situation of African Swine Fever in China


According to the latest updates from official sources (OIE, FAO, European Commission) the epidemic of African Swine Fever started on August 3 last year in the People's Republic of China currently has 100 outbreaks in 23 provinces with more than 706,000 pigs culled in order to limit the spread of infection.


The disease that does not pose a risk to human health, on the other hand, is a serious blow to the income of farmers, mostly families, due to its high mortality rate that can reach 100% peaks. Epidemiological studies concerning 68 outbreaks (1) have highlighted the three main causes of virus spread: 46% were due to insufficient hygiene conditions of vehicles and workers, 34% to the feeding of pigs with food waste and 19% to transport of live pigs and their products between different regions.


Closely supported by the FAO (2), after repeated technical consultations in the past few months, the Chinese Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs issued a note on 27 December focusing on the transport of live pigs between farms and slaughterhouses.

From a county with Epidemic Zone the transport is limited within the province, from a county without Epidemic Zone breeding pigs and piglets only can be transported to free  provinces.


The note also indicates the characteristics that companies and slaughtering plants must have in order to handle and slaughter live pigs. Farms in addition  to be negative for African Swine Fever tests must have the following characteristics: to  be registered as independent corporation, to have a certificate of conformity to  the conditions for  animal epidemic prevention  (Law of the People’s Republic of China on Animal Epidemic  Prevention),  a solid disease management system as well as a 24-hour veterinary support,  no outbreaks of animal diseases in the previous three years or evidence of serious disease serology. 


Slaughtering plants, on the other hand, in addition to having a license for the slaughter of live pigs, must have had performances equal to or higher than 150,000 pigs slaughtered in 2017, not history of failure in products and have not detected any drugs or additives prohibited in the previous three years. Furthermore, sampling methods and tests, as well as requirements for transport, were defined.


The key points for infection control, as FAO recommendation says (3), are: surveillance and monitoring of the movement of live pigs as well as their products, the application of bio-safety measures in all departments of the pig chain, transport included, the prohibition of feeding pigs with food waste and therefore the application of effective disposal measures of these. Food waste containing products of uncooked pork origin is probably the most important source of infection for animals and the spread of the disease. All these measures must be periodically reviewed and adjusted according to the evolution of the disease over time.

In Japan, the situation is still under control, with no cases registered, but in Hong Kong, pork imports have declined significantly and as a result an increase in the prices of these products is expected during the next months.

Even Europe, where the disease is present in Romania and in the Russian Federation, with cases also recorded in wild boar in Belgium (238), maintains a high level of attention to the Chinese situation. On December 19, a Ministerial Conference organized by the European Commission was held in Brussels; in this contest, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) presented various control strategies on wild boar in addition to the latest scientific knowledge about the disease.





1.    http://english.agri.gov.cn/

2.   http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/programmes/en/empres/ASF/2018/Situation_update_2018_12_28

3.   html http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/programmes/en/empres/ASF/FAO_recomm.html

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