African swine fever in China almost certain to spread in Asia - FAO

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Image CIA

The Food and Agriculture Organization, the United Nations agency spearheading an worldwide effort to control the deadly pig virus, plans to release recommendations for governments after a crisis meeting in Bangkok this week.

The agriculture ministry said it had identified the disease on three small farms in Jiamusi City in Heilongjiang Province in China's northeast, and the cities of Wuhu and Xuancheng in the eastern province of Anhui. More nations may follow, the FAO said.

The contagious viral illness, which doesn't harm humans, can be 100-percent fatal to pigs, causing them to die from hemorrhagic disease within days.

Since the first case of ASF was reported in China on August 3, the virus has spread from northeast to central China and is now making its way to the south. Many cases are more than a thousand kilometers apart.

"By this Friday, we will come up with a framework for the region with priority action plans for each country", said Wantanee Kalpravidh, regional manager of the FAO's Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases, on Wednesday.

The situation should serve as an opportunity to warn travellers not to bring pig meat products from outside the European Union into any EU member state, they said. South Korea ramped up quarantine measures at airports after finding a traveler carrying Chinese food infected with the disease, Reuters reported. "And once it spreads to Asian countries, we could have big social chaos and instability", said Young S Lyoo, from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Konkuk University in South Korea. "We have only seen the beginning".

Pigs being raised in a farm outside Shanghai, China. "It will affect trade, it will affect market prices".

Ms Croad said China was very serious about food security, so if there is any perceived risk from eating pork, despite that not being correct, it could have a major impact on consumers habits.

An exception will be made for products processed using technology to ensure virus destruction - ready-made pig meat products; finished products containing pig or animal raw materials from pork; raw materials of animal origin from pig meat intended for the production of feed for non-productive animals and for fur animals.

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