TAIPEI (CNA) — Test results conducted on a pig carcass found in Taiwan’s offshore Kinmen County came back positive for African swine fever (ASF), the Council of Agriculture (COA) confirmed on Jan. 3.
The dead hog was found Monday on a beach in Kinmen County’s Jinsha Township by Coast Guard personnel just kilometers away from China’s southeastern coast, raising concerns that the outbreak of ASF in China could spread to Taiwan.
Samples collected from the dead hog were sent to the COA’s Animal Health Research Institute (AHRI) for testing, and Chiu Chui-chang (邱垂章), head of the AHRI, confirmed Thursday that the results of those tests indicate the pig was infected with ASF.
To date, it is not known whether the dead hog floated to Kinmen from China or came from a local farm, according to Hsu Jung-bin (徐榮彬), a senior official with the COA’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine.
Authorities have begun carrying out county-wide inspections on Kinmen’s hog farms for possible ASF infection, Hsu said. Kinmen currently has 68 farms, with about 11,000 hogs.
So far, none of the 190 pigs at a farm close to where the dead pig was found have shown any signs of infection, according to the Kinmen County government.
Meanwhile, Hsu said should any of the pigs exhibit symptoms such as loss of appetite or lethargy, the authorities will carry out sample tests.
In the event of a positive test, the hogs will be culled, followed by cleaning and disinfection work on the premises to prevent the virus from spreading, he added.
Since the first confirmed case of ASF infection in swine was reported in China’s Liaoning Province in August, Taiwan has been on high alert, worried that an invasion of the extremely deadly virus could devastate the country’s NT$80 billion (US$2.58 billion) pig farming industry.
To prevent the ASF virus from reaching Taiwan, the government has slapped heavy fines on passengers who bring in pork products from countries with ASF outbreaks, with first-time offenders liable to be fined NT$200,000 and repeat offenders NT$1 million.
By Yang Shu-min and Ko Lin