Mon, Dec 24, 2018 - Page 6 News List

[ LETTER ]

Guarding against swine fever

In view of serious widespread outbreaks of African swine fever in China, countries all over the world have been reinforcing their customs and border inspections to prevent the dreaded disease from breaking in.

Given the plentiful opportunities for swine fever to enter Japan or Taiwan from China, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has drawn up a map showing outbreaks of African swine fever in China. The map lists in detail the latest situation in various Chinese provinces.

One good thing is that the map very reasonably does not place Taiwan within China’s borders. In the face of this unprecedented threat from a kind of swine fever that can kill up to 100 percent of infected pigs and for which there is no cure, it is a good thing that Taiwan has nothing to do with China, otherwise we would really be in deep trouble.

Be that as it may, considering how much travel and trade goes on across the Taiwan Strait these days, it is still possible for meat products to be brought in.

Guarding against African swine fever basically involves three steps. First, we must closely guard our borders to stop it coming in. Second, if any risky items are found, they must be completely destroyed. Third, if by any chance a farm somewhere is infected, it must be isolated and kept under control to prevent the disease from spreading.

Government departments responsible for agriculture have in the past often pointed the finger of blame at pig farmers for collecting kitchen leftovers from sources within Taiwan to feed their pigs, but actually this is not the main problem.

When meat products are brought into the country, they go straight to the dinner table, not to pig farms. There is much more chance of pigs getting infected through contact with people and implements. That is a more likely source of infection than meat products to be thrown straight into barrels of kitchen leftovers instead of being eaten.

Besides, when pig farmers collect kitchen leftovers, they definitely make sure to disinfect the vehicles and containers used to transport them, and they steam and boil the kitchen leftovers at high temperatures.

Pig farmers know that if such a disease were ever to hit their farms, all their pigs would be destroyed and they would incur a huge loss. Pig farmers have more to fear than anyone else, so of course they will not be careless.

Chen Wen-ching

Hsinchu City

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