Sunday, August 26, 2018

South Korea Detects ASF Gene In Chinese Food Products: Additional Testing Underway

Credit South Korea MAFRA 


South Korea -  which already has its own problems with repeated outbreaks of  Avian Influenza  and Foot and Mouth Disease - is on heightened alert for potential introductions of African Swine Fever (ASF) now that China has reported a series of outbreaks (see EID Journal: Molecular Characterization of African Swine Fever Virus, China, 2018).
Yesterday, South Korea's MAFRA (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs) posted the following (translated) notice of a spot check at Inchon Airport's quarantine site, indicating enhanced surveillance at ports of entry:
The Minister of Nursing and Food and materials, Incheon International Airport border quarantine site Check identification data (8.25, distribution)
2018.08.25 19:52:47 International Cooperation Bureau Dong-Jung

Please report from the release on August 25, 2018.
Probate policy director Chang Jae-hong, Kim Eun-oksa-no-min (044-201-2072)/offer date: August 25 (3 Pieces)

The Minister of Food and Industry, Incheon International Airport border Quarantine inspection
-To strengthen border quarantine and domestic preventive management according to the generation of African pig fever we visited Incheon International Airport to check on border quarantine promotion in accordance with the occurrence of the Chinese African Pig fever and encouraged the working Relations center in the Incheon Airport arrival hall.
  • This visit was a place for checking the border quarantine site, which was raised in four castles in China, African pig fever, the risk of domestic inflow of the African pig, such as the virus gene is detected in the livestock imported from the return of travelers traveling to China.
  • The Minister has noted that in the meantime, while the domestic axis industry has seen a lot of damage to the foot-and-ear disease, and pathogenic avian influenza outbreak, the damage would be significant if the introduction of the African Pig fever, the vaccine is not yet developed worldwide.
  • Therefore, the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Livestock Quarantine Headquarters strengthens the search for travelers to carry livestock, we urge you to thoroughly implement the border quarantine, including the maintenance of the remaining food in the ship ․ aircraft, and to those who travel abroad, they have requested to abide by basic safety rules, such as refrain from traveling in areas of livestock epidemic, and prohibition of bringing carry-on products.
  • In addition, both the farmer and the sheep money industry officials were asked to give a thorough observance of the "African Pig Fever Prevention emergency codes of conduct", such as disinfection, blocking prevention, leftover food reimbursement.
Annex: African Pig Fever prevention emergency action tips
While seemingly all precautionary, overnight multiple South Korean Media sources are reporting the discovery of the ASF gene (via preliminary PCR testing) in food products brought into the country by a traveler returning from China earlier this month. 
Since the food product in question was cooked, it is likely the virus was inactivated, but further testing is underway to determine viability. We'll hopefully know more later today or tomorrow.
A couple of links to English language reports follow, after which I'll return with more. First, from KBS World Radio:
African Swine Fever Virus Gene Detected in Food Products from China

Write: 2018-08-26 12:43:55 / Update: 2018-08-26 13:50:29

South Korea is on alert as an African swine fever virus gene was found in food products that a South Korean brought in from China.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said on Saturday that in a preliminary test, the gene was detected in dumplings and sausage declared by a South Korean tourist who was returning from Shenyang, where a case of the highly contagious animal disease in China was recently reported.

The ministry plans to conduct additional tests to confirm the detection by Monday.
        (Continue . . . )

And this from the Korea Times:
African swine fever virus detected

By Kim Hyun-bin

The deadly African swine fever has been discovered in Korea, putting the quarantine authorities on alert.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Sunday, a virus gene of the disease was found in two processed pork products that were brought in and voluntarily reported by two travelers who visited Shenyang, China, earlier this month.

The highly contagious pig disease was first reported Aug. 3 in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang.

Quarantine officials conducted a polymerase chain reaction test which detected the virus gene. They are currently checking whether the virus gene is alive. The final test results are expected to be released as early as today.

(Continue . . . )
While these products were declared by the traveler and confiscated - a remarkable amount of illegal or undeclared food stuffs (and sometimes, even live animals) - pass through airports and other international ports of entry every day.
And while most are not infected with dangerous pathogens, we've plenty of evidence that some of them are. 
Last week, CIDRAP News reported on a recent study in the Journal Virology which found Repeated detection of H7N9 avian influenza viruses in raw poultry meat illegally brought to Japan by international flight passengers. The article states:
This is the first report detailing the isolation of H7N9 from raw meat products outside mainland China and suggests that the illegal transport of poultry is a possible cause of the spread of the virus in Asia, the authors wrote.
Although it doesn't get as much press as it deserves, the transport and trade in wild animals, birds, and `bushmeat'  across international borders poses a significant danger to both public health and agricultural security all over the world.
The lengths that some people will go to move these animals, birds, and goods across international borders sometimes staggers the imagination, but for many of these items - particularly from endangered species - the profit margins can be huge.
 A few notable examples I've blogged over the past decade include:
  • In 2015's A Quail Of A Tale the U.S. Customs Agency intercepted 26 pounds of raw quail eggs at Boston's Logan Airport in the luggage of a traveler from Vietnam, who declared the items, apparently unaware of the danger they posed.
  • In May of 2013, in All Too Frequent Flyers, we saw a Vietnamese passenger, on a flight into Dulles Airport, who was caught with 20 raw Chinese Silkie Chickens in his luggage.
  • The following month we saw a traveler (see Vienna: 5 Smuggled Birds Now Reported Positive For H5N1) attempt to smuggle 60 live birds into Austria from Bali, only to have 39 die in transit, and five test positive for H5N1.   Fortunately, no humans were infected. 
  • In 2012, in Taiwan Seizes H5N1 Infected Birds, we learned of a smuggler who was detained at Taoyuan international airport in Taiwan after arriving from Macau with dozens of infected birds. Nine people exposed to these birds were observed for 10 days, and luckily none showed signs of infection.  
  • In 2011, in Bushmeat,`Wild Flavor’ & EIDs, we looked at the illegal trade in exotic food, including bats, monkeys, large rats, crocodiles, small antelopes and pangolins.
Although our primary concern is the importation of an infectious human disease like avian flu, the threat from importing (and releasing) invasive species, or from bringing in agricultural diseases like Rift Valley Fever, FMD, African Swine Fever, or any number of plant or animal diseases, should not be underestimated.
Even legally imported items pose risks. Last Thursday we learned that Japan Suspended Chinese Pork Imports - including heat-treated rice straw (used for pig bedding) - in an attempt to prevent entry of the virus. 
China is facing a tremendous challenge with ASF reported in 5 provinces in less than a month. And China's neighbors now find themselves faced with preventing the disease from crossing through relatively porous borders into their countries as well.

Given the inroads that ASF has made into Russia, Eastern and Central Europe over the past decade, success is far from assured.