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Vietnam Culls 1.2 Million Pigs With The Spread of African Swine Fever

With the virus continually spreading rapidly across Southeast Asia, Vietnam has culled more than 1.2 million farmed pigs infected with African swine fever.

In the country with 95 million people, pork accounts for three-quarters of total meat consumption. Majority of its 30 million farm-raised pigs are consumed domestically.

Pig trade in Dong Van Vietnam.

It was in February when the virus was first detected in Vietnam, having spread to 29 provinces including Dong Nai, which supplies around 40 percent of pork consumed in Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s Southern economic hub.

The government said in a statement, “The risk of the virus spreading further is very high and the evolution of the outbreak is complicated.”

The statement also revealed how many provinces had failed to detect outbreaks and cull infected pigs properly because of a lack of funds and space needed for burying the dead pigs.

Pork meat sold in a market in Vietnam, photo courtesy of Reuters.

The disease has also proliferated quickly across neighboring China. Affected animals have now been reported in every province in China, and the disease has also spread to Mongolia and Cambodia.

In March, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) advised Vietnam to declare the swine fever outbreak a national emergency.

Singapore Food Agency shared that Vietnam is not approved to export pork to the island city-state. However, China is on the agency’s list of approved pork exporting nations.

While the virus is non-communicable to humans, it can spread by live or dead pigs, domestic or wild, and via pork products. Symptoms in animals include high fever, weakness, skin lesions, diarrhea, vomiting and difficulty breathing. Death can occur within a week of infection.

There is no treatment or vaccine for the disease, and the only way to stop it is to cull all affected or exposed swine herds. If that occurs, there will not be enough surplus pork in the world to make up for the anticipated shortfall in Chinese production.

Sweet and sour pork.

According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, at least 129 outbreaks have been reported since African swine fever was first identified in August, reducing China’s hog population by 40 million and leading to the extermination of an estimated 1 million hogs.

Experts believe the number of culled pigs and infection numbers have been greatly under reported.

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