While long anticipated (see March 2018 FAO Risk Assessment), the arrival of African Swine Fever (ASF) to China for the first time earlier this month has set off alarm bells in China's pig industry, and around the world. The opening paragraph to the March report summarizes the situation:
China is home to around half global hog population and the highest per capita consumption of pork and pork products (FAOSTAT, 2014). An incursion of ASF into China would therefore have devastating consequences for animal health, food safety, and food security, with the possibility of further spread to South East Asia and the Korean Peninsula.Despite the declaration of a national response by the Chinese MOA,
we've seen two more outbreaks reported over the past 3 days, involving 3 additional provinces (see map above).
Today's announcement from China's MOA (below) offers only the barest of details, and raises questions over how long this devastating animal disease may have been circulating undetected for it to show up - almost simultaneously - in 4 Chinese provinces.
(translation)China has - in recent years - dealt with more than its share of high mortality swine diseases, including Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), Porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED), Swine flu, and most recently porcine enteric alphacoronavirus [PEAV].
Haizhou District, Lianyungang City, Jiangsu Province, African swine fever outbreak occurred
Date: 2018-08-19 12:31 Author: Source: Agriculture and Rural Department of Public Information Office
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Press Office released August 19, Haizhou District, Lianyungang City, Jiangsu Province, African swine fever epidemic occurred in pigs.
Since August 15, pig Lianyungang City, Jiangsu Province Haizhou Area farms unexplained death, as of now, the incidence of 615, died 88. August 19, the China Animal Health and Epidemiology Center (National Center for Exotic Animal Disease Research) confirmed the outbreaks of African swine fever is epidemic.
After the outbreak, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural immediately sent a steering group to Jiangsu. Haizhou District, Lianyungang City, Jiangsu Province, has been in accordance with the requirements, launched the emergency response mechanism, to take the blockade, culling, decontamination and disposal measures for treatment, disinfection, pigs and prohibit all susceptible animals and products into or out of the blockade zone. Currently, the outbreaks has been effectively controlled.
In 2013, in Shanghai Govt.: Thousands Of Dead Pigs Retrieved From River, we saw the unexplained wholesale dumping of diseased pigs into local rivers by farmers.As we've seen in the past with diseased poultry, sometimes farmers and local officials have elected not to follow notification procedures, preferring to quietly dispose of the problem under the cover of darkness instead.
It is possible that ASF has been in China for some time, but has only recently been identified by testing, which may mean the virus has had time to become well entrenched in commercial pigs, wild boar, or both.The impact of endemic ASF in Chinese swine should not be underestimated, even though it is not a zoonotic disease. China relies heavily on pork production to feed their 1.3 billion people, and backyard swine are an important part of many individual's livelihood.
Any serious threat to China's massive swine industry also poses a serious threat to China's economy, their food security, and ultimately . . . their national security and political stability.In 2017, in Iran: Bird Flu, Food Insecurity & Civil Unrest, we saw the result of massive poultry culling, an egg shortage, and a 40%+ increase in poultry prices in Iran. A societal response that the Chinese government would not want to see duplicated in their country.
The FAO's report The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017 shows a sharp rise in food insecurity around the world since 2014 (see chart below), and warns:
AFTER A PROLONGED DECLINE, WORLD HUNGER APPEARS TO BE ON THE RISE AGAIN
In 2016, the number of undernourished people in the world increased to an estimated 815 million, up from 777 million in 2015 but still down from about 900 million in the year 2000.
Similarly, while the prevalence of undernourishment is projected to have increased to an estimated 11 percent in 2016, this is still well below the level of a decade ago. Nonetheless, the recent increase is cause for great concern and poses a significant challenge for international commitments to end hunger by 2030.Add in the shifting monsoon patterns in South Asia (including Tibet), droughts, floods, and increasingly erratic climatic changes, and you have a recipe for greatly increased stress on the world's fragile food supply.
All of which makes the spread of ASF in Europe, Russia, and now China - even though it doesn't infect humans - a looming, and potentially serious, public health concern.