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Vietnam confirms first ASF cases on three farms

Taiwan found virus in sandwich carried from Vietnam to Taiwan, but origin of the pork is unknown; meanwhile, China finds new ASF cases in Guangxi.

African swine fever (ASF) has been detected on three farms in Vietnam, national authorities said Feb. 19, which marks the first confirmed cases of the highly contagious disease in the Southeast Asia country, according to a report from Reuters.

All pigs were culled on the farms in Hung Yen and Thai Binh provinces, located southeast of the capital Hanoi, Vietnam, Reuters reported the country's Animal Health Department as saying in a statement.

“The disease is not infectious for humans, so people and farmers shouldn’t panic,” Pham Van Dong, head of the department, told a press conference in Hanoi.

Pork accounts for three-quarters of total meat consumption for the 95 million people of Vietnam, where most of the pork from its 30 million farm-raised pigs is consumed domestically, Reuters said.

With pork being such a popular meat in many Asian countries, U.N. experts said last September the spread of the ASF virus to China’s neighbors was a near certainty and was likely to occur through movements of products containing infected pork.

Nguyen Van Long, the department’s chief of epidemiology, said smuggling animals across borders and tourism made it difficult to control the spread of the disease.

According to Reuters, Taiwan’s official Central News Agency reported Feb. 15 that the Taiwan Council of Agriculture had found the ASF virus in a sandwich carried from Vietnam to Taiwan on Feb. 5. Now, officials from Taiwan and Vietnam are working to determine the origin of the pork in the sandwich, Vietnam’s animal health department said.

Meanwhile, China reported Feb. 19 that it had confirmed ASF in the Guangxi Autonomous Region, which borders Vietnam in southern China. According to China's Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Affairs, the outbreak in the city of Beihai in Guangxi, China, killed 924 animals in two farming communities.

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