In response to a severe African swine fever outbreak in China, the country’s agriculture ministry elected to cull more than 38,000 pigs spanning five of the nation’s provinces this weekend in a last-ditch effort to contain it.
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African swine fever is a terrifying ailment that infects both wild and domestic pigs. Affected specimens suffer high mortality rates, with many succumbing to the disease just days after contracting it.
To this day, there’s no known cure for African swine fever; authorities usually resort to mass culling as a means of preventing infected animals from intermingling with the healthy ones and perpetuating it.
For livestock owners, this is particularly critical. With China being one of the world’s leading pork consumers, livestock loss can be a costly issue. Preventing the spread of African swine fever reduces these losses and keeps the country’s pork supply within the margin of demand.
But the cull isn’t the only measure China’s agriculture ministry is taking to protect healthy pigs. The agency also implemented travel bans that prevent healthy pigs from being imported into outbreak-prone regions and keep all pigs from being exported out of them.
As the agency notes, it’s challenging to discern where the next outbreak may occur. Keeping pigs where they’re at during epidemics of this nature makes containing potential outbreaks easier and more effective.
It goes without saying that it’s a tough week to be a pig in China. Nevertheless, some would argue that it’s better to be safe than sorry.