Premier Lai urges all to support African swine fever prevention efforts

  • Date: 2018-12-23
  • Source: Department of Information Services, Executive Yuan
20181223 (1)

Premier Lai Ching-te visited a livestock farm in Taichung on Sunday to inspect pig feed cooking equipment, saying “African swine fever (ASF) prevention” is more than a slogan; it requires central government, local officials, and hog farms across the nation to thoroughly execute all disease prevention measures. He again called on the public to refrain from purchasing pork-related products from China or visiting infected hog farms there.

The 1997 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Taiwan struck the industry hard with more than 4 million pigs culled and economic losses exceeding NT$170 billion (US$5.9 billion). But the ASF virus is more virulent and tenacious than foot-and-mouth, having a mortality rate approaching 100 percent and no vaccine or treatment available as yet. Taiwan’s hog industry generates approximately NT$80 billion (US$2.6 billion) a year, or NT$200 billion (US$6.5 billion) when accounting for businesses upstream and downstream. These large sums represent the livelihoods of many people, and any incursion of the ASF virus into Taiwan could devastate the entire industry. It is therefore critical for all to work together in the disease prevention effort, the premier said.

The ASF virus can survive for up to 1,000 days when frozen or 100 days in refrigeration, and there are multiple routes of transmission, he continued. With many Taiwanese working on hog farms in China, anyone coming in contact with an infected animal may carry the virus on their persons or luggage. And if the virus were brought back to a farm in Taiwan, it could potentially be transmitted via farm personnel, vehicles or equipment, making it imperative for farms to comply with biosecurity standards in every respect.

Pig feed made from table scraps is one of the ways the virus can be transmitted, but it can be killed by cooking the swill at 90 degrees Celsius for one hour, the premier said. To protect pigs and farmers, the government will provide assistance to help farms without steaming or cooking equipment switch to fodder specifically formulated for animals.