ROME – The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) recently confirmed the first outbreak of African Swine Fever in the Tibet Autonomous Region, and news reports state only one province in China has no reported outbreak of the deadly swine disease.

In Tibet, three outbreaks were reported in Linzhi, which is near the border with India. A total of 5,695 swine were culled.

And the disease continues to spread in China. According to the OIE, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) has reported 118 ASF outbreaks detected across 28 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities since the agency confirmed the country’s first-ever ASF outbreak in Liaoning Province on Aug. 3, 2018. Approximately 1 million pigs have been culled in an effort to halt further disease spread, OIE said.

Additional outbreaks were reported in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and the provinces of Yunnan and Hubei. In response, the Chinese government closed live pig markets in affected provinces and adjacent provinces. However, OIE noted, “Studies showed that 62 percent of the first 21 ASF events in China were related to swill feeding. Directives on banning swill feeding to pigs and record keeping of livestock transportation vehicles was updated.

“Epidemiological studies of 68 outbreaks revealed three major causes spread ASF virus: 46 percent by vehicles and workers without disinfection, 34 percent by swill feeding and 19 percent by transport of live pigs and their products across regions.”

Outbreaks have been reported in Mongolia and Vietnam, while Cambodia reported the country’s first-ever ASF outbreak in Rattanakiri Province. In that incident 400 of 500 pigs died, and the remaining pigs were culled, according to the OIE.

ASF is harmless to humans, but deadly to swine. The virus is transmissible via contaminated animal feed, premises, vehicles, equipment and clothing. Warthogs can be a reservoir for the virus and show no clinical signs of infection. Biting flies and ticks can transmit the disease by taking blood meals from an infected animal and passing on the virus to other susceptible animals. Pigs can become infected through direct contact with infected pigs, and garbage containing unprocessed infected pig meat also are vectors for transmission.

China’s trade partners continue work to prevent the spread of the disease. In the United States, the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) announced plans to increase detector dog teams with US Customs and Border Protection to sniff out illegal products at key domestic commercial sea and airports. The US also is restricting imports of pork and pork products from affected countries and expanding the testing capabilities and capacity of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network.