24 December 2014 - As the African swine fever (ASF) situation worsens in many parts of the world, China has become increasingly concerned about the potential introduction of the disease. On 4 July 2014, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) launched a Technical Cooperation Program (TCP) project to increase the preparedness, and develop strategies, for the prevention and control of ASF in China.
The risk of the disease being introduced from Sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe is increasing and, although the Chinese government has banned the legal import of pigs or pig products from ASF-infected countries, a large number of informal movements of potentially contaminated pork and other pig products may occur through smuggling, inadequate disposal of ship/airline waste, and in travellers’ luggage (i.e. tourists and migrant labour). Such ASF-infected meat can eventually end up as swill feed for domestic pigs or garbage to which scavenging pigs or wild boar have access. As a home to almost half of the world’s pigs, the global pork supply and protein availability would be devastated by an ASF epidemic.
To help China to better assess and manage the risk of an ASF incursion, experts from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) held a three-day training session on ASF Epidemiology and Risk Analysis in Beijing from 19 to 21 November 2014 with around 40 participants from national and provincial veterinary organizations, universities and research institutions.
Through highly participative and interactive exercises, participants learned all the steps in the risk analysis process: risk assessment (i.e. evaluation of routes of ASF introduction), risk management and risk communication, as well as surveillance and outbreak investigation. The training resulted in an improved capacity to deal with ASF incursions, strengthened networking among various veterinary organizations and assisted with the refinement of the national ASF contingency plan.