In a nation where half of the world’s pigs are raised, there’s not much scarier than a widespread and contagious disease hitting the animal population. In just the past couple of weeks, African swing fever has affected more than a dozen pig operations in China and continues to expand.
The largest pig producers in China have gone on lock down — meaning limited feed deliveries and a ban on visitors, among other measures.
“It’s spreading very quickly, and this disease is very dangerous,” one farmer told NPR. “We’re all scared.”
When a pig is found to have the disease, the only option is euthanasia. There is no cure or vaccine for this fever, and mortality rates hover right around 100 percent. The disease can also move very fast through a herd. The silver lining is that the fever is not known to affect human health in any way (though we can transmit the disease from one farm to the next).
The outbreak has caused a halt to pig transport in several regions of China, which produces more than 700 million pigs annually. And coupled with the effects of higher tariffs linked to the trade war with the U.S., Chinese distributors will either have to pay more for their pork products or they will have to turn to European suppliers, which are not part of the rising tariffs.
It is not known yet exactly what kind of effect this will have on American pig farmers, specifically about whether there will be changes in global demand from our producers.