BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s agriculture ministry said on Tuesday it will launch a three-month investigation into illegal activity by slaughterhouses to combat the spread of African swine fever.

The ministry said it will step up checks on the illegal transport, slaughter and processing of sick pigs.

China has reported more than 40 outbreaks of the highly contagious disease across 13 provinces since it was first detected in the country in early August.

(Reporting by Dominique Patton; Editing by Tom Hogue)