Chinese pork sausage tests positive for African swine fever

TAIPEI (CNA) – A pork sausage produced in China has tested positive for African swine fever (ASF), bringing the total number of similar cases to 33, Taiwan’s Central Emergency Operation Center for ASF said yesterday.

The sausage was tested for ASF March 3 after being found cut into several pieces and discarded at Taipei Songshan Airport. It is believed to have been brought into Taiwan by a passenger who disembarked from a Far Eastern Air Transport flight from the city of Hefei in China’s Anhui Province, the center said.

Samples were sent to the Council of Agriculture’s Animal Health Research Institute for testing and found to contain sequences of gene fragments identical to those of the ASF virus strain in China, according to the center.

Since October 2018, a total of 33 pork products from China have been confirmed as infected with ASF – one in October, two in November, four in December, 11 in January, 11 in February and four in March, according to statistics on the center’s website.

As of March 15, 113 outbreaks had been reported in 28 Chinese provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, with more than 950,000 pigs having been culled, according to data published on the website of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

China confirmed its first ASF outbreak in Liaoning Province Aug. 3, 2018, the website said.

Taiwan is on high alert, concerned that the spread of the virus from China could hit its pig farming industry, which is worth NT$80 billion (US$2.60 billion) per year.

Although ASF does not affect humans, the virus is deadly to pigs and there is no known cure or vaccine.

By Wu Hsin-yun and William Yen