The Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department confirmed this Friday afternoon that African Swine Fever (ASF) virus was found in a pig in the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse, according to Hong Kong Secretary for Food & Health Prof Sophia Chan.
“So I just now chaired an inter-departmental meeting at once with the AFCD as well as the Centre for Food Safety and the Food & Environmental Hygiene Department to discuss the response action and also any follow-up work. So in order to minimize the risk of ASF virus spreading from the slaughterhouse, all pigs in Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse will be culled so that thorough cleansing and also disinfection could be conducted.
“The operation of the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse will be suspended until the completion of the disinfection work. So we envisage that fresh pork supply will be reduced in the near future. However, as Tsuen Wan Slaughterhouse is not affected and will operate as normal, there will still be a limited supply of live pigs available to the market.
“We would repeat that ASF will not be transmitted to humans and hence poses no food safety risk. So well-cooked pork is safe for consumption. Finally, we will enhance the surveillance and also testing of pigs, and currently we collect samples from pigs with ASF symptoms for testing, and in the future we will step up the sampling of other pigs for testing.”
ASF is a highly contagious, generalized disease of pigs caused by an Iridovirus of family Asfarviridae that exhibits varying virulence between strains and is very hardy to physical and chemical inactivation. The agent can remain viable for long periods in blood, feces and tissues. It can also multiply in its vectors.
It most commonly appears in the acute form as a hemorrhagic fever. Subacute and chronic forms of the disease also exist. Mortality is usually close to 100 percent and pigs of all ages are affected.
ASF is considered endemic in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa. It is now established beyond Africa, in the Caucasus and Eastern Europe. In the past, the virus was already detected outside Africa from the 1950s to the 1980s in Europe, the Caribbean and Brazil. The disease was effectively eradicated from outside of Africa with the exception of the Italian island of Sardinia, which remains endemic.