November 5, 2018 / 9:12 AM / 16 days ago

China battles to control African swine fever as it reports 50th case

BEIJING (Reuters) - China confirmed a new case of African swine fever on Monday, in southern Hunan province, marking the 50th outbreak of the highly contagious disease in the world’s top pork producer.

The disease, which can be deadly for pigs and has no vaccine, has reached 14 provinces and municipalities in China since it was first detected in early August. Most of the recent cases have been in the south, which has the country’s highest pork consumption per capita.

China’s agriculture ministry said the latest case was on a

small farm of 119 pigs in Baojing county, near the border with Chongqing. It follows two cases reported over the weekend, one in Chongqing municipality, close to Baojing.

China linked feeding kitchen waste to pigs to the majority of the early cases of African swine fever in recent months, but it has not given a cause of the other cases.

Analysts said the country’s feed sector might have been contaminated, suggesting risks were high that the disease would continue to spread quickly.

“It is likely that the source of contamination is feed products. The outbreak situation is very severe,” said Yao Guiling, an analyst with consultancy China-America Commodity Data Analytics.

Beijing has banned the feeding of kitchen waste to pigs, stepped up controls on the transport of live animals, and ordered a crackdown on slaughterhouses processing sick pigs, among other efforts aimed at controlling the spread of the disease.

Sick animals may still be getting into the food chain, however. Taiwan last week reported that it had found the African swine fever virus in a sausage product made by top processor Shuanghui that had been imported from China.

Reporting by Dominique Patton and Hallie Gu; Editing by Tom Hogue and Susan Fenton

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