One-Quarter of World’s Pigs Died In a Year Due To Swine Fever In China

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: The [African swine fever disease] was first reported in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, in early August 2018. By the end of August 2019, the entire pig population of China had dropped by about 40 percent. China accounted for more than half of the global pig population in 2018, and the epidemic there alone has killed nearly one-quarter of all the world’s pigs. By late September, the disease had cost economic losses of one trillion yuan (about $141 billion), according to Li Defa, dean of the College of Animal Science and Technology at China Agricultural University in Beijing. Qiu Huaji, a leading Chinese expert on porcine infectious diseases, has said that African swine fever has been no less devastating “than a war” — in terms of “its effects on the national interest and people’s livelihoods and its political, economic and social impact.”

Much like severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, exposed the shortcomings of China’s public health system when it became an epidemic in 2002-3, swine fever today exposes the weaknesses of the country’s animal-disease prevention and control. But it also reveals something much more fundamental: notably, the perverse effects that even sound regulations can have when they are deployed within a system of governance as unsound as China’s. According to Yu Kangzhen, a deputy minister of agriculture, the localities that struggled to control the spread of African swine fever were also those that lacked staff, funding or other resources in animal-epidemic prevention. Yet that alone cannot explain the breadth of the epidemic or the speed with which it swept across China…

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