New Wave of African Swine Fever Outbreak Hits China

March 10, 2021 Updated: March 10, 2021

China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs announced in a news briefing on March 6 that new cases of African swine fever (ASF) have been reported in China’s southwest Sichuan Province and central Hubei Province.

According to the announcement, a farm with 127 pigs in Xiaojin county, Sichuan Province, reported on March 6 that 38 pigs died from ASF and another 38 were infected with the virus.

In Fancheng district, Xiangyang city, Hubei Province, authorities found that 10 pigs that were being illegally transported in a vehicle were infected with the ASF virus, according to the announcement.

The areas, including the roads and vehicles, where the ASF virus was reportedly detected have been thoroughly disinfected, according to various Chinese media reports.

Prior to the Chinese regime’s recent announcement, three ASF cases have already been reported since the beginning of the year.

The first case was reported on Jan. 21 in Meizhou city, in southern Guangdong Province. A new type of ASF virus strain was found in New Hope Liuhe, a Beijing-based company that manufactures and distributes animal feed and meat products, including pork. Consequently, more than 1,000 hogs were infected, according to a report by China News Service (CNS).

The second ASF case broke out in early February in Hong Kong, where most of the pigs come from mainland China. According to the city’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, a pig farm in Yuen Long was shut down due to the discovery of the ASF virus and 3,000 pigs were culled.

On March 2, China’s Animal Disease Control Center (CADC) reported that the ASF virus was detected among piglets that were being transported. The vehicle was stopped randomly for an inspection near a highway exit in Funing county, in southwest Yunnan Province. Out of the 36 piglets that were examined, six died from the virus and another six showed symptoms, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

In some parts of China, a naturally occurring and less virulent strain of the African swine fever virus emerged, according to a study by Harbin Veterinary Research Institute of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, which was published in the academic journal Science China Life Sciences on Feb. 26.

The study involved virus samples gathered from June to December 2020, including 3,522 pathogenic samples that were collected, tested, and analyzed in the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Shannxi, and the Inner Mongolia region, plus 138 suspected infected samples from other parts of China.

The findings show that at least four types of ASF virus strain mutations have emerged in the country. Although the virus samples exhibited lower pathogenicity than typical virus strains, they showed obvious residual virulence and strong transmission ability. The virus easily spreads among pigs, causing continuous infections, chronic diseases, and death, according to the study.

A Reuters report claims that China’s meat industry was devastated during the ASF outbreak that occurred from 2018 to 2019. More than half of the country’s 440 million pigs were wiped out at the time, and the disease has taken a quarter of the world’s hogs off the market, causing meat prices to spike globally, the report said.