HONG KONG – WH Group Ltd., parent company of Smithfield Foods Inc., was ordered to temporarily close a major pork processing plant in Zhengzhou, China, after the country reported the second outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in two weeks.

On Aug. 14, 30 out of 260 live hogs supplied by an independent live hog supplier in Heilongjiang were found dead. Test results confirmed the presence of the ASF virus. Two days later, the People’s Government of Zhengzhou Municipality issued a blockade order requiring WH Group to close the processing plant for six weeks starting Aug. 16. The company said the temporary closure “…was part of the epidemic prevention and control measures of the People’s Government of Zhengzhou Municipality.” The remaining 230 hogs were culled.

African Swine Fever is a hemorrhagic disease of pigs, warthogs, European wild boar and American feral pigs. ASF is highly contagious, and swine of all age groups are susceptible to it. Currently, there are no vaccines against the disease. Mortality rates in a swineherd can be as high as 100 percent, and death can occur within two to 10 days on average, according to the World Animal Health Organization (OIE).

An outbreak notice published by the OIE stated that the infected pigs were legally transported from a live swine market. “Strict blockade, disinfection, and movement control measures were conducted in the slaughterhouse,” according to the report. “The local government launched the African swine fever contingency plan and emergency response according to the Standard & Protocol for African swine fever. All live pigs and animal products were prohibited to enter and exit the area. Epidemiological survey and screening have been initiated in the Heilongjiang province.”

WH Group said “…In light of the detection of African Swine Fever, Zhengzhou Shuanghui has taken active steps in order to prevent further spread of the swine disease including, among other things, setting up a specialized body, euthanizing all live hogs at the Zhengzhou Slaughtering Factory and temporarily closing down the Zhengzhou Slaughtering Factory.”

China’s first outbreak of ASF occurred in the city of Shenyang, more than 600 miles from the second outbreak. In that incident 47 pigs died from the disease, and 8,069 pigs were culled. In response to the outbreak, the Chinese government implemented control measures that included movement control inside the country; surveillance outside containment and/or protection zones; screening; quarantine; official destruction of animal products; official disposal of carcasses, by-products and waste; stamping out; control of wildlife reservoirs; zoning and disinfection.

In a follow-up report, the Chinese government noted that the outbreak had been controlled, and no new cases of ASF had been detected.

Read more about the African Swine Flu crisis in the September issue of MEAT+POULTRY.