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African swine fever virus found in Chinese sausages

2018/12/20 23:16

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Taipei, Dec. 20 (CNA) Taiwan's Council of Agriculture (COA) announced Thursday that Chinese sausage products brought by a passenger into Taiwan have been found to contain the highly contagious African swine fever (ASF) virus.

The pork sausages brought by the traveler from China's Macau to the Kaohsiung International Airport had tested positive for the virus, becoming the sixth case of African swine fever to be brought to Taiwan from abroad, according to the COA's Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine.

No domestic infections in Taiwan have been reported so far.

The first three imported cases were confirmed on Oct. 31, Nov. 13 and Nov. 30. The fourth and fifth cases were confirmed on Dec. 12.

Since Taiwan's government raised fines on people smuggling meat into the country on Tuesday, a total of 20 cases of meat smuggling have been uncovered by customs officers as of 4 p.m. Thursday, with total fines reaching NT$1.24 million (US$ 40,273), according to the bureau.

The virus was first reported in August this year in China's Liaoning province, prompting the Chinese government to cull tens of thousands of hogs.

Although China has since blocked transports of live pigs and pig products in a large part of the country to stop the further spread of the virus, Taiwan's government is asking for more information from the Chinese government to prevent the disease spreading to Taiwan's large number of pig farms.

While the virus does not sicken humans, it can spread to pigs in Taiwan if infected products, such as sausages, end up being used to feed hogs here. Taiwan has a practice of collecting kitchen waste and leftover food from households and restaurants and using them to feed pigs in farms.

(By Yang Shu-min and Christie Chen)Enditem/cs