WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — In the face of  trade issues between the United States and China, swine industry professionals came together to discuss the growing number of African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreaks in China.

ASF is a hemorrhagic disease of pigs, warthogs, European wild boar and American feral pigs. Swine of all age groups are susceptible to it, and clinical signs of infection can vary from mild to 100% death rates in swineherds. Death can occur within two to 10 days on average. Vectors for transmission of ASF include biting flies and ticks, direct contact with other swine, and garbage containing unprocessed infected pig meat. But an especially troubling characteristic of ASF is that it can survive in feed ingredients. Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist at INTL FCStone, said because the ASF virus can survive in the environment for extended periods it’s easy to spread.

The 7th U.S.-China Swine Industry Symposium, held in Beijing, was co-organized by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), the China Animal Agriculture Association, the China Meat Association, as well as the China Chamber of Commerce for the Import/Export of Native Produce and Agricultural Products.

The symposium had three sessions, focused on strategies to control and eradicate disease outbreaks, global and national efforts to control such diseases, and the impact of animal diseases on trade patterns and the swine industry. Industry speakers also spoke about how the disease is influencing China’s grain, trade and demand structure.

With the ag industry keeping an eye on the spread of ASF other countries have had confirmed cases and are working to prevent the rising cases.

According to Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, ASF is present in countries of sub-Saharan Africa, and has more recently been detected in other parts of the world such as countries in Eastern Europe, including Russia and the Ukraine. It most recently has been reported in Belgium, China and Mongolia.

In response to the recent spread of ASF, the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has increased its border activities. As part of this, a sample of pork products seized at international airports and mail processing centers over a two-week period has been tested for African swine fever.

The testing was conducted at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong.

Lyn O’Connell, head of biosecurity at the department, said the department has increased its controls and remains committed to keeping Australia’s A$60 billion agricultural industries free from the disease.

“The test results show six pork products from 152 tested were contaminated with African swine fever virus,” O’Connell said. “Bringing banned products to Australia puts our environment, industries and animal health at risk. The detection of the virus in seized products at the border does not change Australia’s African swine fever free status. The test results do, however, reinforce the importance of continued compliance with Australia’s strict biosecurity requirements.”