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ASF in China: one year on

12th Aug 2019 / By Rebecca Veale

ASF SE Asia July 2019 - DefraImage: Defra (July 2019) 

A year has now passed since China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs confirmed its first African swine fever (ASF) outbreak in Liaoning province. But what has happened in the last 12 months?

The country has reported over 140 outbreaks, four of which have been since the end of June. All provinces in China have been affected and more than 1.16 million pigs have been culled in an effort to stop the spread of the disease. It has been estimated that as many as half of China’s breeding herd have either died because of or have been culled due to ASF – so the figures released might be underestimating the real situation.

It is not only the producers affected in China, sales of vaccines, feed additives and genetics have fallen with feed mills already having closed.

The Vice Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs for China (MARA) stated in early July that the epidemic had slowed, despite the situation still being complicated and difficult. MARA is providing temporary assistance and subsidies are being paid quickly to pig farmers asked to mandatory cull their herd. They have put movement restrictions in place in Epidemic zones but these are being lifted where no new cases have been reported for six weeks.

ASF has now spread from China into Hong Kong, Cambodia, North Korea, Mongolia, Laos and Vietnam, across which almost five million pigs have either died or been culled due to the spread of this disease.

ASF is a challenging disease to control, particularly given the ability for the virus to survive in infected frozen pork, the ease of transmission via feral pigs and the lack of an effective vaccine. The efforts across the various affected countries have not yet brought about control of ASF and researchers are working hard to produce a vaccine.

But where there is challenge there is also opportunity and exports from many countries globally, the UK and EU included, has plugged some of the gap created by ASF in South East Asia – read more about this here.

Defra has classed the risk of ASF entering into the UK as medium with concern that incursion could come from infected meat entering the country either from the EU or Asia. Defra has just launched a poster campaign in airports and ports to raise awareness to travellers about the risk of bringing infected pork products into the UK, which is illegal and something which the NPA has long called for.
The NPA welcomed the launch and continues to call for more proactive measures to ensure that when meat is brought into the country by passengers, it is detected and seized.

The posters have been spotted in some airports so do snap a picture of one if you see one on your travels and send it to us at

ASF in South East Asia: the figures (July 2019)

First outbreak: August 2018
Total outbreaks: over 140
Affected areas: all provinces
Loss of pigs: 1.16 million pigs culled, over half breeding sows lost

First outbreak: February 2019
Total outbreaks: over 2,700
Affected areas: all provinces and the majority of municipalities
Loss of pigs: over 3 million

First outbreak: June 2019
Total outbreaks: 7
Affected areas: Saravane province

First outbreak: February 2019
Total outbreaks: 11 (involving 105 farms/households)

First outbreak: March 2019
Total outbreaks: 5
Affected areas: Rattanakiri province, Kampong Cham Province, Svay Rieng, Takeo

North Korea
First outbreak: May 2019
Total outbreaks: 1
Affected areas: ChagangDo Province