Dead pig found on Hong Kong beach amid African swine fever fears

18-Jan-2019 Intellasia | SCMP | 6:18 AM Print This Post

A dead pig found on a beach on an outlying island in Hong Kong on Thursday sparked an investigation into where it came from amid concerns over an African swine fever epidemic in mainland China.

The metre-long carcass was found by a woman on a beach near the Bela Vista Villa holiday resort on Cheung Chau shortly before 10.30am, police said.

A force spokesman said it seemed the carcass had washed ashore. He said workers from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) were called in to collect it.

A spokeswoman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said the pig was sent to Tai Lung Veterinary Laboratory in Sheung Shui for testing. The government said late on Thursday that the carcass tested negative for African swine fever.

 (South China Morning Post)

(South China Morning Post)

The find comes at a fraught time for Hong Kong’s pork industry.

The city recently strengthened protections against African swine fever in response to its spread across the mainland. New measures included strict rules on culling livestock.

Thomas Sit Hon-chung, assistant director of inspection and quarantine at the AFCD, said in December the government would kill all livestock in a slaughterhouse if an infected pig was found.

About three weeks ago, 20 mainland Chinese pig farms halted supplies to Hong Kong as the fever swept the country, with at least 92 outbreaks of the viral infection – which cannot pass to humans – reported at farms.

Some worried the pig found on Cheung Chau had come from the mainland.

“There are 43 pig farms in Hong Kong and they’re mainly in the New Territories. It would be too much of an effort to haul a dead pig from there and leave it in Cheung Chau. Someone must have thrown it into the sea from the mainland,” said Simon Cheng Ka-shing, directing manager of Hong Kong Agriculture Special Zone, a company that imports livestock from mainland China.

“If one pig was sick with the virus, all the livestock on that farm would die and not just one found this morning.”

Two weeks ago, a dead pig washed up on a beach in Taiwan and was later confirmed to have the African swine fever virus.

According to Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture, 17 dead pigs had been found on its streets and islands since mid December.

The dead animals stoked fears Taiwan’s pigs could become infected with the disease and prompted Taipei to claim Beijing was not sharing accurate information.

China repeatedly said the disease had been effectively dealt with and was under control.



Category: Hong Kong

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