TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Though the devastation of African swine fever (ASF) has been greatly underreported by China's state-run media, the evidence of the extent of the epidemic is becoming all too clear, as video has emerged showing tens of thousands of pigs killed after the disease struck a single farm in Fujian Province, the closest Chinese province to Taiwan.
Despite very scant coverage on the topic in Chinese media, what is known is that the highly contagious disease has spread to 23 provinces and cities in China. That only leaves eight provinces that have yet to officially report the spread of ASF, including: Hebei, Shandong, Guangxi, Hainan, Ningxia, Gansu, Xingjiang, and Tibet.
Much to the chagrin of China's censors, a Chinese netizen in recent days posted on the internet a disturbing video showing tens of thousands of pigs spitting blood and massive piles of dead hogs on. China’s agriculture ministry yesterday (Dec. 23) confirmed the spread of ASF to a farm in Guangzhou Province, putting neighboring Hong Kong on edge.
On Saturday (Dec. 22), a Chinese netizen uploaded video showing tens of thousands of dead pigs at a farm in Youxi County's Sanming City in Fujian Province. After the video surfaced, it aroused heated discussions among Chinese citizens.
Screenshot from YouTube video.
Some netizens described it as a "massacre," while others criticized the cruel treatment of the animals and the lack of following basic sanitation guidelines. Many fear that sloppy mass cullings like this may only spread the disease further.
In Guangzhou Province, authorities yesterday reported the first case of African Swine Fever at a farm in Huangpu District. Out of the farm's 6,027 live pigs, 30 were infected with the disease and nine had already died.
After the first case of ASF in China was reported in Shengyang City, it soon spread to Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Henan, Jiangsu, Anhui, Zhejiang, Guangdong, and Fujian, among other cities and provinces. Despite the obviously massive scale of the outbreak, China has thus far only reported 99 outbreaks to the World Health Organization.
Lai Shiow-suey (賴秀穗), a professor of veterinary studies at National Taiwan University told Liberty Times that the number of infected cases in China could not possibly have only 99 cases. "African swine fever has long been out of control in China. Chinese companies raise hundreds of thousands to millions of pigs each. Is it possible for them to cull all of them? Of course not," said Lai.
Screenshot from YouTube video.
Lai estimates that out of China's 430 million pigs, more than 100 million of them are infected with ASF now. Not only are they facing huge economic losses, "it will probably be very difficult to raise pigs in China in the future," asserted Lai.
Meanwhile, Ken Sullivan, chief executive officer of Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods Inc., the world’s biggest pork producer, in an interview with National Hog Farmer said that the outbreak of ASF in China will serve as an opportunity for American producers. Sullivan was optimistic that the resulting drop in pork supplies would lead to a rise in prices that would result in a net profit next year, despite the fact that most-active hog futures traded in Chicago are down about 13% this year.