Second dead hog found on Kinmen County beach

A dead hog was spotted Friday on a beach in Xiaoqiu islet, Kinmen County, four days after a first carcass was found at another coastal location in Kinmen.

TAIPEI (CNA) – A dead hog was spotted Friday on a beach in Xiaoqiu islet, Kinmen County, four days after a first carcass was found at another coastal location in Kinmen.

The dead pig was clearly brought by the tide as there are no pig farms on the Kinmen-administrated islet, said Coast Guard Administration (CGA) Director-General Lee Chung-wei (李仲威).

The spot where the pig was found has been cordoned off for inspection by quarantine personnel, he added.

Taiwan has been on high alert since the carcass of a dead hog was found Monday on a beach in Kinmen’s Jinsha Township by Coast Guard personnel Authorities are concerned that an outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in China could spread to Taiwan and Kinmen, which is only about 2 km (1.2 miles) east of the mainland Chinese city of Xiamen.

The first carcass was confirmed as being infected with ASF on Thursday.

On Friday, quarantine personnel were dispatched to the 10 hog farms situated within a 5 km radius of the first site to collect tissue samples for ASF testing, according to Kinmen County Animal and Plant Disease Control Center.

Center director Wen Shui-cheng (文水成) said there are a total of 2,100 hogs at the farms and samples will be collected from 10 pigs at each location. He added that the center has instructed local townships to send local vets to inspect pig farms outside the 5 km alert zone.

Wen said that due to its proximity to China, 200-300 tons of garbage float from the mainland to Kinmen each year. Dead hogs have on occasion been spotted among the garbage, he said, therefore, it is possible the pig carcass found in Jinsha is from China.

The Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) under the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture said the results of the tests will be announced on Jan. 12 at the latest.

Travelers waiting to leave Kinmen at Shangyi airport and Shuitou Wharf have been warned that they must not bring meat products into or out of the island group.

Acting Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) has announced that beginning Friday, pork products from Kinmen will be prohibited from entering Taiwan proper for two weeks, to ensure the safety of pigs and pork products on the main island.

“Kimmen is not yet infected, but based on the highest degree of quarantine, the strictest standards are to be enforced,” Chen said.

BAPHIQ official Fu Hsueh-li (傅學理) said additional measure have been put in place at Kinmen airport to remind travelers of the provisional ban, which will last until Jan. 16, including stricter immigration clearance checks with X-ray machines and sniffer dogs.

As of Friday noon, no irregularities have been reported, Fu said, noting that anyone caught violating the ban at Kinmen airport will be fined NT$50,000 to NT$1 million because Kinmen is not an ASF-infected area.

Since the first confirmed case of ASF infection was reported in China’s Liaoning Province in August, Taiwan has been on high alert, worried that an outbreak 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 Yu Hsiao-han, Amy Huang and Elizabeth Hsu