A case of African swine fever has been detected at a Hong Kong slaughterhouse, prompting the culling of all 6,000 pigs at the facility.
Hong Kong Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan (陳肇始) said in a statement on Friday that the incurable virus was found in a single pig imported from a farm in Guangdong Province in mainland China, where the months-long outbreak has devastated herds.
Pork is China’s staple meat, and its price and availability is considered a matter of national concern. Shortfalls in supply have increased demand for pork from producers in the US, with whom China is in a trade dispute.
The culling was necessary so that “thorough cleansing and also disinfection could be conducted,” Chan said.
Operations at the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse would be suspended until the disinfection work is completed, she said.
“We will enhance the surveillance and also testing of pigs, and currently we collect samples from pigs with ASF symptoms for testing, and in the future we will step up the sampling of other pigs for testing,” Chan said, using an acronym for the disease.
The territory’s supply of fresh pork would be reduced in the near future, but there would still be a limited supply of live pigs available from another slaughterhouse, she said.
Unlike swine flu, African swine fever cannot be transmitted to humans.
Well-cooked pork is safe for consumption, Chan said.
Concerns about the spread of African swine fever to the US has led organizers to cancel the World Pork Expo scheduled for next month in Iowa.
Denmark has begun erecting a 70km fence along the German border to keep out wild boars in an attempt to prevent the spread of African swine fever, which could jeopardize the nation’s valuable pork industry.
Russia has also been hit hard by the disease and some have speculated that the Chinese outbreak might have originated among pigs from that country.
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