New blow to China as African swine fever found in wild boar


China's efforts to contain the spread of African swine fever suffered a further blow on Friday when the Agriculture Ministry confirmed it had found the first case in a boar, deepening a three-month crisis for the world's largest pig producer .

The country also confirmed the first outbreak in the southwestern province of Sichuan, the country's main grazing region, increasing the likelihood of a major impact on pork supply in the coming months.

The disease was found in a dead boar in the town of Bastian in northeast China's Jilting province, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

"The new case means it will be even more difficult to control African swine fever. How do you control wild boars? "Said Yah Guiding, an analyst with China-America Commodity Data Analytics.

China has banned the transport of live pigs and products from regions infected with African swine fever and neighboring provinces to control the spread of the highly contagious disease, as well as prohibiting the feeding of kitchen waste to swine.

But the virus continued to spread despite government efforts, with more than 60 outbreaks in 18 provinces across the country since the beginning of August.

China's large boar population, which may harbor the disease without presenting symptoms, is estimated at about 33.5 million, according to Reuters estimates based on data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Local authorities in Jilting inspected the neighboring areas frequented by wild boars and carried out extensive sterilization of all pig farms in the area, the Agriculture Ministry said in its statement.

Analysts said the discovery of the boar suggested that the virus could have been brought to China by animals from other countries.

China has blamed the feeding of kitchen waste by swine for the spread of disease.

The highly contagious disease was also discovered on a 40-pig farm in Yibin city, southeast of Sichuan.

"With the new case in Sichuan, all major pig production provinces have already fallen. The situation is very serious, "Yah said.

China slaughters about 700 million pigs a year. Sichuan produced nearly 66 million in 2017, according to official figures, more than any other province.

Sichuan is also the province with the highest per capita consumption of pork in China, with 36 kilos, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

Sichuan provincial authorities last week banned the import of all live pigs and pig products from other regions in an attempt to keep the disease.

But Yibin is close to the borders of Sichuan with Chongqing county and Guizhou province, both have reported outbreaks.

Pig prices in Cheng, capital of Sichuan, are currently the highest in the country, thanks to strong local demand and a rise after the disease has infected neighboring provinces.

Prices fell 0.2 yuan on Friday from a day earlier to 17.7 yuan ($ 2.55) per kg, according to data collected by China-America Commodity Analytics.

The discovery of African swine fever in Sichuan takes place less than three months before Lunar New Year celebrations in early February that mark the peak period of China's pork demand.

There is no cure or vaccine for the disease, and the virus can survive for weeks on pork and animal feed.



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