"With the way the disease spreads, we are particularly concerned about the risk of African swine fever arriving in this country through infected meat from numerous regions which now export pig meat products to New Zealand".
Malaysia has been declared free from African swine fever (ASF) since the virus was detected in the Asian continent on Aug 3, Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Sim Tze Tzin said on Friday (Sep 7).
"It's critical that this region be ready for the very real possibility that [swine fever] could jump the border into other countries", said Wantanee Kalpravidh, regional manager of the FAO Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases (Ectad) in Asia.
China reported its first case of the disease in August in Liaoning Province.
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China produces more than half of the world's pigs and, while ASF poses no direct threat to human health, the virus can devastate the swine population. China's agriculture ministry recently announced it would close live hog markets in the affected provinces and would impose a ban on transporting pigs and pork products from the provinces.
The outbreaks have pushed up pork prices in the country's south as demand grows ahead of a week-long holiday in October and also raised the prospect of more imports. The disease has since spread south prompting a cull of 38,000 pigs.
"It may be very, very hard to control this epidemic in China".
The strain detected in China is similar to one that infected pigs in eastern Russian Federation and neighbouring countries in 2017 and Chinese authorities believe the outbreaks originated from outside the country.
Chinese authorities are rushing to contain the virus, shutting live markets in infected provinces and banning transportation of live pigs and pork products in and out of those regions.