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Mainland China Added to APHIS’ African Swine Fever List

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has added mainland China to the list of countries affected by African swine fever, effective 26 March. APHIS noted that while pork and swine imports from mainland China into the United States were already affected by actions to prevent the importation of classical swine fever, foot-and-mouth disease and swine vesicular disease, additional restrictions are being applied to pork and pork products, including casings, to prevent the importation of ASF.

APHIS had said in November 2018 that it would be working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to increase inspections for prohibited products from ASF affected countries. The agency described ASF in a fact sheet as a “highly contagious and deadly viral disease affecting both domestic and feral (wild) pigs in all age groups.” ASF cannot be transmitted to humans and is not a threat to human health. However, it can be transmitted by contact with infected animals’ body fluids, by ticks that feed on infected animals, and by feeding food scraps that contain infected products. There is no treatment or vaccine available for ASF, so the disease can only be controlled by destroying infected pigs.

APHIS added that ASF is a long-standing disease found particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, but that it is now found in Mongolia and Vietnam and is spreading within ten member states of the European Union, affecting mostly wild pigs in Europe. It also noted that mainland China had confirmed more than 50 cases of ASF between August and November 2018.

A 15 March 2019 report from the USDA attaché in Beijing indicated that mainland China had already reported 115 ASF outbreaks to the World Organisation for Animal Health, covering all commercially significant swine producing regions. Meanwhile, CBP has been using dogs to sniff out illegal pork products at U.S. airports and seaports and on 16 March it announced that border agents had seized one million pounds (453,592 kilogrammes) of food products from mainland China in the previous month. CBP originally referred to the seized shipments as containing pork but later clarified that the shipments included noodles and tea bags, although the agency alleges that the noodles and tea were only imported in an effort to hide the pork shipments.

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