Hong Kong plans pig cull as swine fever fears spread

In a move which will raise concern across the region, Hong Kong authorities have ordered the culling of more than 900 pigs after detecting the presence of swine fever in  animals at a licensed farm in the New Territories district.

The move comes during a difficult period for the poultry and livestock market, with a number of European countries currently embarking on the rollout of vaccine programmes and periodic culls as they currently seek to grapple with the spread of avian flu.

Now, the news that the Hong Kong authorities have ordered a cull or pigs will add to the woes of a sector which is struggling to adjust to a changing risk environment, with the spread of damaging viruses increasingly difficult to contain.

The Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said 19 of 30 pigs tested had swine fever and that transportation of pigs from the farm had been immediately suspended. The culling will start early next week, it said.

“AFCD staff has arranged to inspect the other eight pig farms within three kilometres (two miles) of the index farm and will collect samples for ASF testing,” it said in a statement.

“Pork cooked thoroughly is safe for consumption. Members of the public do not need to be concerned.”

Though often fatal to pigs and with no vaccine available, swine fever does not affect humans, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.