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Fuzhou meatballs test positive for African swine fever

2019/03/21 20:46:04

Image for illustrative purposes only / Image taken from Pixabay

Taipei, March 21 (CNA) A packet of fish balls containing pork from Fuzhou in China's Fujian Province has tested positive for African swine fever (ASF), bringing the total number of such cases to 34, Taiwan's Central Emergency Operation Center for ASF said Thursday.

The product was tested for ASF on March 13 after being found discarded at Kaohsiung International Airport. It is believed to have been brought into Taiwan by a passenger who disembarked from a Uni Air flight from Fuzhou, according to the center.

Samples sent to the Council of Agriculture's Animal Health Research Institute for laboratory testing were found to contain sequences of gene fragments identical to those of the swine fever virus strain in China, according to the center.

Since October 2018, a total of 34 pork products from China have been confirmed as infected with ASF -- one in October, two in November, four in December, 11 in January, 11 in February and five in March, according to statistics compiled by the center.

Since China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) confirmed the first ASF outbreak in Liaoning Province on Aug. 3 2018, 113 ASF outbreaks had been declared in 28 Chinese provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities as of March 15. More than 950,000 pigs have been culled in an effort to halt further spread, according to data published on the website of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Taiwan is on high alert, concerned that the spread of the virus from China could hit its pig farming industry, which is worth NT$80 billion (US$2.59 billion) per year.

Although ASF does not affect humans, the virus is deadly to pigs and there is no known cure or vaccine.

(By Yu Hsiao-han and Evelyn Kao)