September 15, 2018 / 5:42 AM / 8 days ago

China says battling swine fever is 'complex and challenging'

BEIJING (Reuters) - Battling the spread of African swine fever in China is “very complex and challenging”, the country’s agriculture ministry said after chairing a meeting of over a dozen major government bodies.

Pigs are seen at a backyard farm on the outskirts of Harbin, Heilongjiang province, China September 5, 2018. Picture taken September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Hallie Gu

The meeting on Thursday came as more than a dozen African swine fever outbreaks have been reported across China since early August, mostly on small farms.

Two new outbreaks of the disease, which can be deadly to pigs, were reported on Friday in the Inner Mongolia region and Henan provinces.

“All relevant departments must ... understand the importance of doing a good job in the prevention and control of African swine fever,” the agriculture ministry said in a statement published on its website late on Thursday.

Attendees included the foreign ministry and the National Development and Reform Commission.

The agriculture ministry said an inspection team would be formed to patrol major provinces that could be under threat from the disease.

There is no vaccine for African swine fever and mortality rates can be as high as 100 percent. The virus is also hardy, surviving for months in pork, feed or swill. It is not harmful to humans.

Reporting by Yawen Chen and Se Young Lee; Editing by Joseph Radford

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