Deadly Pork Disease Spreads across China, Causing both Domestic and International Issues
China produces nearly half of the world’s pork. Since August, of China’s 500 million pigs, it has been reported that roughly a million pigs have died from the contraction of a little-known disease, although some figures suggest much more. Due to China’s non-compliance to send pig tissue for outside lab analysis, there is no definitive diagnosis. Consequently, The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is pushing for China to seek outside laboratory assistance to analyze the disease. Scientists have referred to cases of the virus as “Blue-ear Pig Disease”, “Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome”, and “African Swine Fever”. Symptoms of this virus have included fever, depression of pigs, failure of the respiratory system, ensuing coughing, and blood-shot eyes with oozing puss. The disease has spread through most of China’s 33 provinces and has no present cure. While this outbreak is not believed to be harmful to humans, it does pose some concerning issues for both Chinese pig farmers and anyone who enjoys pork regularly.
Since very little is known of this virus, it is difficult for farmers to prevent its spreading throughout their entire herd. Farmers all throughout China and now parts of Vietnam, are quickly losing their lively-hood to this disease. With the major decline in China’s pork output, the prices of pork have sky-rocketed both domestically and internationally. Chinese shoppers who usually enjoy pork weekly are complaining about the prices, saying they are “too expensive” now. Furthermore, this epidemic is affecting Americans and other countries who rely on large quantities of pork imported from China, as the supply diminishes and the prices increase.
In order to meet the demands of its massive population, China is importing pork from Germany, Spain, and Canada. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects China’s pork imports to soar 41% this year over 2018 to 2.2 million tons”. Experts say that this epidemic is extremely complex because of its variety of symptoms and multiplicity of cases, and warn that it will take years for China and its pig farmers to recover from.