Almost 5 million pigs lost to Asia’s ASF outbreak

Close to 5 million pigs in Asia have now died or been culled because of the spread of African swine fever (ASF), first detected in China in August 2018.

As of August 2019, ASF is present in six Asian countries: Cambodia, China, DPR Korea, Lao PDR, Mongolia and Vietnam. The latest data provided by FAO indicates that current losses represent more than 10 percent of the total pig population in each of China, Vietnam and Mongolia.

With FAO support, other countries in the region are ramping up preparedness efforts to prevent further spreading of the disease.

“As there is no commercially available vaccine, we need to place greater emphasis on other disease counter efforts. Countries must be vigilant at borders – land, sea or air – in preventing the disease’s entrance and spread through the introduction of infected pigs or contaminated pork products. Outbreaks need to be reported immediately,” said FAO’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Juan Lubroth.

“We are urging at-risk countries to implement effective biosecurity measures to prevent infected live pigs or contaminated pork products from crossing their borders,” he said.

Emphasizing the importance of best practices, FAO urges farmers affected by ASF to not move their pigs or pig products, emergency operators and veterinary authorities to oversee pig carcass disposal through burning or burial on location, and for countries to have sound compensation strategies in place to support cooperating farmers.

The outbreak is particularly affecting vulnerable small-scale farmers who may lack the expertise or funds to protect their animals from the disease.

FAO’s Emergency Management Centre for Animal Health (EMC-AH) has deployed several response teams to assist countries in curbing the disease, in collaboration with OIE. The teams worked with veterinary services and government representatives to increase biosecurity measures in and around farms, and advise on effective culling techniques that respect international animal welfare standards.

The EMC-AH has also responded to requests from ASF-free countries in the Asia region for guidance on protecting against the disease. In addition, the centre activated an ASF Incident Command Group in order to streamline FAO’s activities and key messages on the disease.

For further information, see: FAO African swine fever situation updates