Ninety-eight pig carcasses found abandoned in Taiwan or drifted in its coastal areas have been tested for African swine fever (ASF) over the past nine months, seven of which were positive, Taiwan's Central Emergency Operation Center for ASF said Thursday.
The carcasses included 23 found on outlying islands close to China and 75 in Taiwan proper, the center said in a statement.
The seven carcasses tested positive are believed to have drifted from China, where an ASF outbreak was first reported last August, according to the center.
All seven were found in outlying islands, with five found in Kinmen County and two in Lienchiang County (Matsu), the center said, adding that no carcasses found in Taiwan proper have so far tested positive.
Kinmen and Matsu are approximately two and nine kilometers away from China's mainland at their closest point, respectively.
In light of the figures and the unlikelihood the pig carcasses found in Taiwan came from China, the center called on all Taiwanese pig farmers to dispose of dead pigs properly, in accordance with the stipulations of the Animal Industry Act, which regulates and provides guidance to livestock and poultry farming businesses.
All those who improperly dispose of dead pigs will be fined, the center noted, adding that if an improperly disposed of pig carcass tests positive for a communicable disease and the farmer is identified, the maximum fine is NT$1 million (US$31,705).
As of May 16, 130 outbreaks of ASF had been reported in 32 Chinese provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, with around 1.026 million pigs culled, according to data published on the website of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
China confirmed its first ASF outbreak in Liaoning Province Aug. 3, 2018, the website said.
Taiwan is on high alert, concerned that the spread of the virus from China could hit its pig farming industry, which is worth NT$80 billion per year.
Although ASF does not affect humans, the virus is deadly to pigs and there is no known cure or vaccine.