The deadly pig virus that jumped from Africa to Europe is now ravaging China’s $128 billion pork industry and spreading to other Asian countries, an unprecedented disaster that has prompted Beijing to slaughter millions of pigs. But stopping African swine fever isn’t so easy.
The virus that causes the hemorrhagic disease is highly virulent and tenacious, and spreads in multiple ways. There’s no safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection, nor anything to treat it. The widespread presence in China means it’s now being amplified across a country with 440 million pigs—half the planet’s total—with vast trading networks, permeable land borders and farms with little or no ability to stop animal diseases.
The number of pigs China will fatten this year is predicted to fall by 134 million, or 20%, from 2018—the worst annual slump since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began counting China’s pigs in the mid-1970s. While the pig virus doesn’t harm humans even if they eat tainted pork, the fatality rate in pigs means it could destroy the region’s pork industry.
Spain’s experience with the disease suggests that a cull alone won’t be enough to solve the problem. The country implemented strict sanitary measures and industrialized its hog production system but it took 35 years and help from the European Union before the disease was eradicated in 1995. The Italian island of Sardinia has been trying unsuccessfully to get rid of the virus for four decades, and its hog population is a fraction of China’s.
This artile is originally from https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2019-eliminating-african-swine-fever/