HARBIN, China (Reuters) – Even after 14 outbreaks of African swine fever across China in just over a month, pig farmer Wang Wu does not believe the threat to his livelihood is real.
“I heard about the African swine fever thing. But then people said it was just rumor. It was fake news,” said Wang, who raises about 60 pigs in a village near Harbin, capital of China’s northeastern Heilongjiang province.
In any case, the disease was only present in the south, added Wang. In fact, the first outbreak was reported in Shenyang, also in the northeast. And Harbin is only 500 kilometers from Russia, where African swine fever (ASF) has been spreading for years.
The farmer’s lack of awareness of the virus highlights the scale of the challenge Beijing faces in controlling the highly contagious disease, which has spread rapidly among the world’s largest hog herd since it was first detected in early August.
There is no vaccine for ASF and mortality rates can be as high as 100 percent. The virus is also hardy, surviving for months in pork, feed or swill. It is not harmful to humans.