Thursday, January 10, 2019

China: No ASF Reports For A Week - But Taiwan Continues To Intercept Contaminated Foodstuffs


Almost a week ago, in ASF: When Pigs Float, we looked at the detection of an African Swine Fever infected pig carcass discovered washed up on a Taiwan-controlled island just off the coast from Mainland China New Year's Eve, prompting fears of illegal dumping of diseased pigs by farmers.
This, combined with the continued interception of ASF contaminated food products at the Taiwan airport from travelers arriving from China, led to accusations that China wasn't doing enough to report on the dangers of the virus to their own people (see Focus Taiwan report Tsai heightens ASF alert, demands transparency from China).
At roughly the same time (Jan 3rd), following multiple reports (often appearing in the dissident press) of coverups or under-reporting of ASF outbreaks on the Mainland, China's MOA warned their pig industry against covering up outbreaks (see Reuters China warns pig trade against African swine fever cover-ups as Taiwan concerns grow).
All of this came barely a week after China's MOA Relaxed Some Rules On Pig Transport Amid Ongoing their ASF Epidemic, in an attempt to ensure the flow of food products to the market over what is arguably the most important holiday in China; the Lunar New Year.
It's now been more than a week (see screenshot below) since China's MOA updated their ASF epidemic page, with the last outbreak reported on a very large farm in Heilongjiang Province on January 2nd.  

Despite this recent lull in the reporting ASF from the mainland, Taiwan continues to interdict (and fine) travelers from the mainland entering the country with illegal (and often ASF contaminated) food products.

Today they announce their 11th and 12th ASF- positive test result.
Continued implementation of inbound passengers' check-ups, and 2 cases of African swine fever virus genes detected by passengers carrying illegal pork products

The Animal and Plant Epidemic and Quarantine Bureau of the Agriculture Committee of the Executive Yuan said today (10) that two cases of African swine fever virus genes were detected in pork products in mainland China. This is the 11th and 12th case positive cases. The first 10 cases are respectively 107. 1 case on October 31, November 13 and November 30, 2 cases on December 12, December 20, December 21, and January 3, 1 each, January 5 2 cases.

The Anti-Inspection Bureau said that the 11th pork product (ham sausage) was brought from Nanjing by Chinese mainland passengers on December 28, 107. The 12th pork product (Harbin Red Sausage) was also brought by Harbin from my nationality on the same day. The entrances were all entered by Taoyuan Airport and were seized by the Hsinchu Branch of the Agriculture Inspection Bureau. They have been fined 200,000 yuan and the meat has not been destroyed after sampling. The two samples were sent to the Aberdeen on January 7, 2008, and were confirmed by the Animal Husbandry Institute.
The sequence of the gene fragment was 100% similar to that of the Chinese pig swine fever virus strain in mainland China, indicating that the passengers were self-identified. Mainland China carries pork products back to China, and the risk of spreading African piglets is extremely high.
The Anti-Inspection Bureau finally said that the case of passengers carrying illegal meat violations was counted as follows: from December 18, 2007, when the amount of the penalty was increased to January 9, 108, the national penalty was 200,000 yuan. 89 yuan for 30,000 yuan and 15 yuan for 10,000 yuan. The statistics are updated daily on the website of the Anti-inspection Bureau's website. The Anti-inspection Bureau once again reminded the public that they should not carry meat when they enter the country. They should not send foreign meat products to Taiwan for online purchase. Offenders will be severely punished.

Other countries - including South Korea and Japan - have interdicted Chinese-origin ASF contaminated products over the past few months, and remain on high alert in hopes of keeping the virus out of their pig population (see Japan MAFF: ASF Virus Detected In Luggage At Hokkaido Airport and South Korea Detects ASF Gene In Chinese Food Products: Additional Testing Underway).
As far as what is going on with the virus on the mainland, while the Chinese government strictly controls what information gets out - based on some of their recent warnings to farmers, feed manufacturers, and the pig transport industry - it isn't entirely clear how much of a handle they have right now on their current ASF situation. 
It stretches credulity to believe that ASF activity has somehow stopped on the mainland only 3 weeks before the Lunar New Year - but unless and until the MOA updates their epidemic webpage - all we can really go on are reports like the one above from Taiwan indicating the virus remains in the local food supply.

Meanwhile, the ASF continues to spread across Eastern Europe, with Poland reportedly authorizing the culling of 200,000 potentially infected wild boar (see Controversial wild boar cull planned in Poland) in order to control its spread.

And even though ASF has never been reported in North America, the potential exists for its importation from China, Europe, or Africa. Last month the USDA released a new African Swine Fever Factsheet that discusses their preparations for a possible introduction of the virus into this country.

Keeping ASF Out

Because of the concern over ASF, USDA recently reviewed and further strengthened its longstanding stringent protections against the spread of the disease.These include:
  • Collaborating with states, industry and producers to ensure everyone follows on-farm biosecurity and best practices (including for garbage feeding in states where that is allowed);
  • Restricting imports of pork and pork products from affected countries; and
  • Working with CBP staff at ports of entry to increase passenger and baggage screening for prohibited products from affected countries.