Livelihood of million small-scale pig farmers around Asia is at risk due to the African swine fever outbreak, according to the United Nations.

This incurable disease was first detected in China, the world’s largest pork producer, in August 2018. 

From then on, it has extended in thousand miles and in countries that have subsistence farmers including Vietnam, Cambodia, and Mongolia, UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said.

In the meantime, China has reported 137 outbreaks already, but more are not reported yet. Half of China’s breeding swine have died either from the swine fever outbreak or from being slaughtered because of it.

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African swine fever outbreak in Beijing, China (Image source: AsiaNews.it)

Preventive measures to the spread of this outbreak, such as transportation of pork supply, may threaten the source of income of families who do not have enough expertise and means to afford protection to their herds, according to FAO’s report.

Cristina Coslet, an FAO economist, said “It’s important that these farmers get help as soon as possible, especially as it appears the virus is not contained.”

“We’ve contacted our offices in affected countries and while it will take some time to get the exact numbers, we have reports that the small farmers’ incomes are already affected,” she told Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone call.

Though harmless to humans, African swine fever is highly transmissible through direct contact with an animal or through contaminated food or objects like farming equipment.

So far, there is no effective way to prevent this deadly disease. However, Vietnam reported on Tuesday that it has succeeded in creating a vaccine to fight the disease.

Philippines bans pig imports from Laos due to swine fever outbreak

Meanwhile, the Philippines has banned Laos from importing pigs and pig products because of the African swine fever outbreak, it said in filings the World Trade Organization has published on Tuesday.

Citing scientific evidence that African swine fever can spread through feed products, the Philippines also added that it was introducing new “biosecurity measures”, including quarantine period, for imports of plant-based products from countries infected with flu.

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