Blue-ear pig disease infected 45,858 swine in 22 Chinese regions in the first
five months of the year, Jia Youling, the country's chief veterinarian, said on
The highly pathogenic disease, also known as Porcine Reproductive and
Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), has killed 18,597 pigs and forced another 5,778
pigs to be culled, said Jia, who is also director of the veterinarian department
of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Blue-ear disease was first discovered in the United States in 1987 and spread
to China in mid 1990s, he said, adding the virus could not infect humans.
Jia said China first spotted a more virulent form of the pig disease in the
summer of 2006 and identified it as a mutated highly pathogenic strain in
January of this year.
"The virus has mutated and caused higher mortality rates," he said.
China has twice reported the infections to the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations after pigs in Yunfu, in the southern province
of Guangdong, were infected with the virus, said Jia.
Swines dieing from "high-fever diseases" were mainly suffering from blue-ear
pig disease but other viruses caused some deaths, said the chief veterinarian.
"Pigs killed by the'high-fever disease' accounted for 0.2 percent of the
total pig population," he stated.
Jia maintained that there is no evidence to support the idea that the
outbreak of blue-ear pig disease has caused pork prices to jump.
He said the mortality rate of pigs from all causes is now between 6 percent
and 8 percent, while in the 1980s, 10 percent of the pig population died before
they were slaughtered, said Jia.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the price of piglets in April was
71.3 percent higher than a year earlier, while the price of live pigs was 45.2
percent higher, and the cost of pork was up 29.3 percent.
A significant jump in the cost of feed and a decline in the pig population
were the major factors behind the rising pork prices this year, the chief
The pig population declined mainly because pig farmers have incurred losses
over the past couple of years and were reluctant to raise them, said Xu
Lianzhong, a senior economist with the price supervision center under the
National Development and Reform Commission.
"The central government has allocated 280 million yuan (36.5 million U.S.
dollars) to fund vaccinations of swine at various pig farms," Jia said.
China successfully developed a vaccine for the new variant in 90 days and
approved 12 companies to produce the vaccine in May, he said, adding the
government has distributed 20 million milliliters of vaccine to disease-hit
The output of the vaccine would total 70 million milliliters in June, 154
million milliliters in July and 189 million milliliters in August, the chief
Jia also said the China Animal Disease Prevention and Control Center has set
up a reporting mechanism with 2,600 counties nationwide to ensure timely
treatment and prevention.