By Dominique Patton

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s vice agriculture minister said on Wednesday that local governments should step up their oversight of large-scale pig farms and breeding farms as another province reported a fresh outbreak of the highly contagious African swine fever.

China has reported almost 40 separate outbreaks of the deadly disease in 10 provinces and municipalities since the first case in early August, leading to the slaughter of almost 50,000 animals.

Yu Kangzhen’s comments, published on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, came after a 20,000-head pig farm in northeast Liaoning province reported an outbreak of the disease earlier this week. It was the first large-scale farm to be hit by the deadly disease.

China has banned the transport of live hogs from provinces that have reported outbreaks of the disease as well as bordering provinces in an effort to control its rapid spread.

However, new cases are still being reported daily, with about a dozen uncovered in Liaoning province over the last week. On Wednesday, another case was reported on a small farm in Liaoning’s Panjin city and the northern province of Shanxi disclosed its first outbreak.

Yu visited Jinzhou city in Liaoning on Tuesday, according to the statement, to inspect the area’s disease prevention efforts. On the same day, major feed and pig producer Dabeinong said it uncovered a suspected case of African swine fever on one of its affiliated farms there.

The vice minister urged local governments to give more prominence to large farms. He also said authorities should crack down on false reporting of cases of the disease to gain compensation for culling. He did not provide details of how widespread such behavior is.

China also said on Wednesday it has banned the import of pigs and pig products from Moldova. It has already banned pork imports from Bulgaria, Japan and Belgium in response to disease outbreaks there.

African swine fever cannot be cured and has no vaccine. It can be transmitted in pork products, animal feed or by people.

(Reporting by Dominique Patton; Editing by Richard Pullin and Manolo Serapio Jr.)