Reports show swine fever toll in China may far exceed recorded 137 outbreaks

Reuters reports that as many as half of China’s breeding pigs have either died from African swine fever or been slaughtered because of the spreading disease.

1 July 2019, at 12:40pm

This means that the actual death toll for swine fever in China may be twice as high as is being officially recognised by the Chinese government, according to four suppliers speaking to Reuters.

Cracks are already beginning to show as food prices rise and the volumes of imported pork increase each week. China's rural economy is suffering greatly with 40 million pig farmers making up that demographic.

“Something like 50 percent of sows are dead,” said Edgar Wayne Johnson, a veterinarian who has spent 14 years in China, when speaking to Reuters.

Losses are being recorded across the pig industry by vaccine producers, feed additive producers and and genetics companies alike. Reuters reports that losses are not only from infected pigs dying or being culled, but in many cases farmers are sending pigs to market early to avoid contracting the disease when it has been confirmed nearby.

This action has kept pork prices down in previous months but prices are now showing a dramatic rise and China's agricultural ministry believes they could increase by 70 percent throughout 2019.

It is believed that many outbreaks are still going unreported though the official government statement reports 137 outbreaks to date. Due to China's "vast and fragmented" agricultural sector, it may be the poor data quality that is making it impossible to gauge the full extent of the disease. Some producers have even spoken anonymously about their experience of being told not to report cases of the disease by local authorities.

Only time will tell the damage that has been done by this epidemic.

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