Second dead pig found on Kinmen shores tests negative for ASF

2019/01/06 18:37:38 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Administration

Photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Administration

Taipei, Jan. 6 (CNA) The second pig carcass found on the Kinmen County shoreline last week has tested negative for African swine fever (ASF), the Council of Agriculture (COA) said Sunday.

The dead pig, found on Xiaoqiu islet Friday, was the second one to be found on the shores of the island county in four days amid fears over ASF, which has been spreading across China.

The COA said the carcass found on Xiaoqiu by coast guard officers was most likely brought there by the tide since there are no pig farms on the islet.

The first dead pig, which was found Monday on a beach in Kinmen's Jinsha Township, was confirmed Thursday to be infected with the ASF virus.

Since then, quarantine measures have been tightened in Kinmen, which lies less than 10 kilometers off China's east coast, to include a two-week ban on the shipment of meat products to Taiwan proper.

On Friday, quarantine personnel were also dispatched to 10 hog farms within a five-kilometer radius of the Jinsha Township beach to collect tissue samples for ASF testing, according to the Central Emergency Operation Center.

However, the laboratory results showed that the virus had not infected any nearby pig farms, the center said Saturday, adding that authorities will continue to monitor all farms in Kinmen for possible ASF infections.

Currently, there are about 11,000 pigs on 68 farms in Kinmen, according to the COA.

Since the first confirmed case of ASF was reported in China's Liaoning Province last August, Taiwan has been on high alert, worried that an outbreak of the deadly virus would devastate its NT$80 billion (US$2.59 billion) pig farming industry.

The COA said there is a risk that the ASF virus could enter the pig farming industry though the use of kitchen waste as hog feed, which is a common practice in Taiwan. Of the 7,240 pig farms in the country, 1,776 use kitchen waste to feed their pigs, according to COA data valid as of last November.

At a press conference Sunday, COA deputy chief Huang Chin-Cheng (黃金城) said that 1,155 of the farms that use kitchen waste must invite local environmental authorities within the next week to check on their treatment of pigswill.

Those that fail the inspection will be required to change to grain feed or drop out of the industry entirely, Huang said.

Citing the latest statistics, Huang said 239 of the 1,776 farms have already decided to switch to grain feed, 25 have decided to stop raising pigs, and 357 have been certified by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) as using the correct treatment for pigswill.

The EPA-certified farms all have the required equipment to heat their swill to least 100 degrees Celsius for more than an hour, which will kill the ASF virus, according to the COA.

Although the virus does not affect humans, it is fatal to pigs and there are no drugs or vaccines against it.

Infected pigs must be slaughtered and their carcasses disposed of by incineration or chemical treatment.

(By Wu Hsin-yun and Elizabeth Hsu)
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