MOSCOW (Reuters) – The African Swine Fever (ASF) virus may have came to China from the European Union, Russian agriculture safety watchdog said on Tuesday, citing results of its own research.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) last week said around 40,000 hogs had so far been culled in China in an attempt to stop the disease from spreading through the world’s largest pig herd.

“The first and most probable (version) is an import of the virus to China from one of the European Union countries, taking into account the highly developed trade in agricultural products, including supplies of pork products between China and the EU,” the Russian watchdog said in a statement.

China could also have got the virus from wild boars of the South Caucasus region but the likelihood of this scenario is low, Russia’s Rosselkhoznadzor added.

Russia, which shares part of its border with China, and its neighbors have also seen several ASF outbreaks this season. Last week, Moscow said it could ban pork imports from Belarus after it found ASF in some meat products.

The rise in pork prices in Russia in July-August was caused by ASF outbreaks among other factors. The virus is a highly contagious fever among pigs, but it is not dangerous to humans.

(Reporting by Polina Devitt; editing by David Evans)