Ministry: Pig-killing disease behind pork price rise

Updated: 2007-06-04 16:25

BEIJING - Blue ear disease that has killed 18,000 pigs in China this year was blamed for a recent surge in pork prices, the Ministry of Agriculture said Monday.

A vaccine was already in use to fight the contagious disease, the ministry said in a statement on its Web site.

Pork prices have shot up 43 percent in the last year. The jump was so serious that the Cabinet held an emergency session last week to discuss it, and Premier Wen Jiabao made public appearances broadcast on state television to address concerns.

Blue ear disease, also called porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, was first identified in the United States in 1987, according to the Web site of the World Organization for Animal Health.

The disease does not affect people.

The ministry said another 27,000 pigs were infected with the disease. It warned in May blue ear disease could spread with the hotter summer weather. Many farmers have stopped raising pigs because of worries they would lose money if the animals died.

"Blue ear disease has seriously affected the stable and healthy development of the pig breeding industry ... It is not only an economic issue, but also a social issue," the ministry said.

Pork is the meat of choice for most people in China. Urban Chinese ate an average of 19 kilograms (42 pounds) per person in 2006, according to the ministry.

Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours