Thursday, October 25, 2018

China MOA: 3rd Southern Province (Guizhou) Reporting ASF This Week

Credit Wikipedia


After nearly three months of only afflicting northeastern provinces, in the past 4 days we've seen three of China's Southern Provinces report African Swine Fever outbreaks (Yunnan, Hunan, and today Guizhou). 
With more than a dozen provinces and/or territories now affected - and 4 new provinces reporting their first outbreak over the past 8 days -  ASF appears to be well entrenched in China. 
First today's announcement from the MOA, then I'll return with a postscript.

African swine fever epidemic in Bijie City, Guizhou Province
Date: 2018-10-25 11:36 Author: Source: Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Press Office 

The Information Office of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs was released on October 25, and the pig swine fever in Africa was found in Bijie City, Guizhou Province.

At 11:00 on October 25, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs received a report from the China Center for Animal Disease Control and Prevention. The samples from the Guizhou Provincial Center for Animal Disease Control and Prevention were diagnosed as African by the China Center for Animal Health and Epidemiology (National Center for Animal Disease Research). Swine fever. 

The positive samples were from a farmer in Hezhang County, Bijie City, Guizhou Province. The farmer had 10 pigs, 8 diseases, and 8 deaths.

Immediately after the outbreak, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs sent a steering group to the local area. The local government has started the emergency response mechanism as required, and adopted measures such as blockade, culling, harmless treatment, disinfection, etc., to treat all the sick and culled pigs harmlessly. At the same time, all pigs and their products are prohibited from being transferred out of the blockade, and pigs are prohibited from being transported into the blockade. At present, the above epidemic has been effectively disposed of.

While outbreaks remain sporadic - and some provinces that reported outbreaks 2 months ago have gone quiet - the rapid geographic spread of ASF in China is a concern not only for the world's largest pork producer, but for their neighbors (see FAO: African swine fever (ASF) threatens to spread from China to other Asian countries).
We are also never quite sure how complete or timely the reporting of animal or human epidemics - or any bad news, for that matter - really is. 
On top of scores of governmental attempts to hide, or at least minimize, disease outbreaks around the world, we've famously seen thousands of pigs disposed of illegally in China (see Shanghai Govt.: Thousands Of Dead Pigs Retrieved From River) - presumably by farmers - unwilling to report disease or deaths to government officials.

We've also seen H5Nx infected chicken carcasses - apparently dumped upstream in the Pearl River - repeatedly wash up on the beaches of Hong Kong (see Hong Kong: More H5N1 Infected Chickens Wash Up On Beach). 
Quite frankly, reporting an outbreak of avian flu, or pig diseases, can bring unwanted scrutiny from government officials. Sometimes it is easier for farmers - or local officials - to handle matter quietly. 
There's a report in the Hong Kong press this morning of an item appearing in the Daily China Discipline Inspection and Supervision News, regarding local officials caught falsifying H7N9 test results on local poultry.
Hong Kong time
October 25 (four) 08:15

In Guangxi, there were public officials who were exposed for inspection and the H7N9 test samples were fraudulent. 

Every winter to spring is the peak of the outbreak of H7N9 avian influenza virus. The health departments all over the country are waiting for it. However, there are 3 staff members of the aquatic animal husbandry and veterinary station in Guangping Town, Cangwu County, Ganzhou City, Guangxi, and 2 village-level animal disease control officers. 

Suspected to detect trouble, actually falsified, slaughtered 3 chickens to take blood in 60 test tubes, served as a sample of 60 chickens for inspection, resulting in serious results. At present, the five public officials involved have been subject to administrative records and warnings within the party.

(Continue . . .  )
This sort of thing is neither uncommon, nor it it exclusive to China.

Coming forward with bad news is never easy, particularly when doing so could jeopardize your career, or force your entire flock or herd to be culled - or worse - you could be blamed for the outbreak. 

Other notable examples include reports of falsified veterinarian certificates of health in Russia, cover-ups of SARS in China, the deliberate transport and sale of H5N1 infected birds in Nepal and India, and the midnight disposal of bird flu infected chickens in Indonesia and Vietnam.
For some, falsifying reports or quietly disposing of dead animals, and quickly selling off what still passes for healthy, seems a more prudent option.
All reasons why, regardless of the number and quality of reports we get from official channels, the situation on the ground is almost always more complex than we realize.