Industry insiders tell Reuters that a new form of African swine fever is popping up on Chinese pig farms. The timing is not good for the world’s biggest pork producer that’s still trying to recover from a devastating epidemic.
Two new strains of African Swine Fever have infected over 1,000 sows on several farms owned by China’s fourth-largest pork producer. It’s also showing up in pigs being fattened for the firm by contract farmers.
A company spokesperson says the disease isn’t quite the same as the wild African Swine Fever Virus because the new variant doesn’t kill the large number of pigs that China lost in 2018 and 2019. The new strain causes a chronic condition that reduces the number of healthy piglets born to sows. But infected pigs are culled from herds to prevent the spread, which makes the disease ultimately fatal.
Many Chinese farmers turned to unapproved products to help protect their animals. Chinese experts fear the illicit vaccines created accidental infections that have begun to spread. There’s no approved vaccine for ASF, which is not harmful to humans.