African Swine Fever in China: Long Road Ahead, OIE Says

( National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff )

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said it will take years for China to contain the African swine fever (ASF) virus. On Tuesday, the OIE launched a global initiative, to be coordinated with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), to try to keep the deadly disease in check.

Although ASF poses no risk to human health, it is devastating for the economy of pig farms and for international trade, with repercussions for the livelihoods of farmers and for food safety. 

“The objective is to control the disease, strengthen countries’ prevention and preparation efforts, and minimize the adverse effects on animal health, animal welfare and international trade,” the OIE said in a statement.

The initiative will use the GF-TADs (Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases) mechanism to develop, improve and harmonize partnerships and coordination at national, regional and international levels. 

Launched in 2004 by the OIE and FAO, GF-TADs aims to prevent, detect and control transboundary animal diseases, taking into account their regional dimensions. In Europe, regional groups of ASF experts have been in existence under the umbrella of this platform since 2014, and groups have recently been set up in Asia and the Americas.

In the upcoming months, the OIE will establish a work program in collaboration with FAO, taking into consideration the regional initiatives that already exist. In addition to the harmonized approach between countries, the transparency of new and evolving outbreaks is essential to a good understanding of the epidemiology of the disease and to its control and prevention, the statement said. 

Controlling ASF is a high priority for both affected countries and those free of the disease. OIE urges member countries to uphold standards and practices for the effective control of ASF by implementing:

  • Programs for prevention, early detection and intervention, and compensation policies
  • Biosecurity measures
  • Pig traceability and movement controls
  • Effective official monitoring
  • Management of wild pig populations
  • Slaughter of animals in accordance with animal welfare rules, and the safe disposal of contaminated animal products
  • Improvement in collaboration between stakeholders and between countries
  • Programs of ongoing training and awareness raising

ASF affects everyone. “It’s not us versus them. It’s not one government against the other at the producer level. It’s a humanitarian animal welfare issue, it’s an economic issue for all,” says Gordon Spronk, DVM with Pipestone Veterinary Services.

China Reports Two New Outbreaks
China's southwestern Guangxi region confirmed yet another outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in Bobai county on Monday, Reuters said.

A farm with 104 pigs in Yanshan town in neighbouring Yunnan province also reported an ASF outbreak.

“China is going to deal with this African swine fever for many years to come,” OIE Deputy Director General Matthew Stone told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the 87th General Assembly of Paris-based organization.

ASF has spread to neighboring Laos, Mongolia and Vietnam and Stone said there was a significant danger that the virus could reach other Asian countries in the coming months.

“The situation is going to continue to evolve in Asia because we know there is significant contamination of the meat and meat products supply chain and practices such as garbage feeding that may not be appropriately regulated,” Stone said.

Vietnam has already culled 1.7 million pigs, 5% of the country’s herd, in an effort to stop the deadly disease.

“It is an enormous challenge for some of these countries in Asia to transform their farming systems into higher biosecurity systems but that’s the imperative,” Stone said. “We are going to live with African swine fever for many years. This is why the long-term focus on research and development and the short- and midterm focus on improved biosecurity and veterinary services’ capacity to respond is absolutely imperative.”

Although scientific publications indicate progress on vaccine development, Stone said it could take a long time to take a vaccine from a laboratory into the field due to regulatory authorization processes.

For the latest news on ASF, visit

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