AMES, Iowa (Reuters) – An outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in China’s hogs is probably bigger than what has been reported publicly, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Thursday.
“We think that it probably has been underreported in China – the way they’re able to control their media about that,” Perdue said at Landus Cooperative office in Ames, Iowa.
China on Aug. 3 reported its first cases of the deadly ASF in Liaoning province and found another outbreak in Zhengzhou in central Henan province two weeks later.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs on Thursday said ASF has infected 185 pigs on a farm in Wuhu, in eastern Anhui province, China’s fifth outbreak of the deadly disease this month.
The news has pushed up U.S. hog prices and raised concerns of the disease spreading into other parts of Asia. [LIV/]
ASF has been detected in Russia and Eastern Europe as well as Africa, though never before in East Asia, and is one of the most devastating diseases to affect swine herds.
It would be “devastating” if ASF entered the United States, not only for hogs but for grain handlers and farmers who grow crops used as animal feed, Perdue said.
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is responsible for keeping out foreign animal diseases.
That is why there are agricultural checks made at borders and airports, Perdue said.
“We try to have a really hard line over the protections of international travel,” he said. “APHIS is on the job every day trying to keep any of that kind of thing from coming because it would be absolutely devastating.”
(Reporting by Tom Polansek; writing by Caroline Stauffer, editing by G Crosse)