AMID GROWING concern over an epidemic of African swine fever in China, Suvarnabhumi Airport will step up
Livestock Development Department chief Sorawit Thaneeto has instructed the Animal Quarantine Station at the country’s largest international airport to dispatch a team, including sniffer dogs, to find, seize and properly dispose smuggled pork products from China.
As part of the department’s temporary 90-day ban on the import of pigs and pork meat products from China, Thai officials have also been told to strictly scan for and suppress illegal pork imports from neighbouring countries through 89 border checkpoints in 25 provinces.
If the situation remains risky, Sorawit said he would extend the temporary ban by 90 days at a time.
If the outbreak worsens, the department may also propose that the Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister issue a ban on the import or transit of pigs and pork to Thailand from China, he added.
Labs at the National Institute of Animal Health and the Veterinary Research and Development Centre’s regional centres are also preparing to test pigs for African swine fever. If any such cases are found, necessary measures will be implemented to prevent and contain it.
African swine fever does not affect humans, but causes haemorrhagic fever in pigs and wild boars that is nearly always fatal. There is no antidote or vaccine for the fever, and the only known preventive measure is a mass cull of infected livestock.
Last week, UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) convened a regional emergency meeting to address the outbreak in China, which produces half of the world’s pigs.
As pork is produced and consumed in so many Asian countries, particularly in East and Southeast Asia, the introduction of the virus to other countries in the region is a near certainty, experts said on the final day of the emergency meeting.
Kundhavi Kadiresan, FAO assistant director-general and Asia-Pacific representative, said the virus was a threat to livelihoods, economies, the entire swine industry and its associated value chains.
China on Monday reported another outbreak of the deadly African swine fever in the eastern province of Anhui as the disease spreads further in cities that have already reported infections.
China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said that 23 hogs have died and 63 were infected in Tongling city in Anhui.
The outbreak is the 14th reported in China since African swine fever was first detected in the country on August 3 and the eighth in Anhui alone.
Cases have been found in five other Chinese provinces, including Liaoning in the northeast, where the first outbreak occurred.