In DepthAnimal Health

African swine fever marches across much of Asia

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Science  17 May 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6441, pp. 617-618
DOI: 10.1126/science.364.6441.617

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African swine fever has again expanded its global reach with outbreaks reported in Vietnam, Cambodia, Mongolia, Hong Kong, and possibly North Korea. The highly contagious and often fatal disease of domestic pigs and wild boar appeared in China last summer and continuing infections are occurring throughout that country. But the recent spread of the virus beyond China is particularly worrisome as few other developing countries in Asia can match China's veterinary capabilities. And pork is an important source of protein in much of the region, raising concerns about food security. In Vietnam, for example, pork accounts for three-quarters of meat consumption. With no treatment and no vaccine, the only way to keep pigs healthy is to strictly prevent exposure to the virus, which can persist in the environment and on farm clothing and machinery, survive in fresh and processed pork products, and even resist some disinfectants.