African Swine Fever is continuing to devastate China’s hog population while it disrupts global pork markets and forces U.S. industry stakeholders to work together on prevention efforts. David Williams of Informa Economics and Bill Even, CEO of the National Pork Board, recently gave presentations at the North American Meat Institute’s Meat industry Summit. The trade industry website Meating Place Dot Com says both presentations were very bleak.
“African Swine Fever is the worst possible disease in swine in the world,” Even said during his remarks. “China is home to half the world’s pigs, so preventing ASF in North America is critical. There is no vaccine for ASF. There’s no way to treat it.” Even says the Chinese producers they’ve spoken to describe the disease as a flow of hot, molten lava, moving slowly through their facility but killing everything. ASF has killed 18 percent of China’s herd, which topped 435 million head before the outbreak. That 18 percent is more than the entire U.S. hog population.
The disease is transmitted through sick animals, as well as contaminated feed and casings. Outbreaks are now popping up in Vietnam, Tibet, Cambodia, and South Africa. ASF is not in the United States, nor have any U.S. pigs been affected by the disease to date. It’s a viral disease that only affects pigs, so it’s not a public health threat.