Experts are saying that the African Swine Fever outbreak that continued last year could have an even bigger impact in 2020. The Guardian says that the highly-contagious virus that is fatal to pigs is still spreading at a rapid rate.
While human attention is on the COVID-19 outbreak, the concern is growing around the world that countries are not putting enough focus on halting the spread of ASF through better biosecurity practices, cooperating on vaccine development, or being transparent about the scope of outbreaks.
Despite being present in the world for more than 100 years, there is still no vaccine for the disease that kills almost every animal it infects. “The ASF virus is much more potent than COVID-19 because it can survive in the environment or processed meats for weeks and months,” says Dirk Pfeiffer, a veterinary science professor at City University in Hong Kong and one of the world’s leading experts on ASF.
The disease reached China in the fall of 2018 and unofficially led to culling more than 200 million pigs from the world’s largest hog herd. Global ASF infection numbers by the end of April showed this year is close to or above the infection numbers from 2019. China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Eastern Europe are the current focal points for outbreaks, with new outbreaks showing up in India and New Guinea.