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China Blames Blue Ear For Over 1,000 Pig Deaths

Blue ear disease has killed more than 1,000 pigs in the northern province of Shanxi, but agriculture experts said the spread of the disease should be contained by a vaccination program.

Local authorities have sealed villages and forced local breeders to vaccinate pigs to prevent the spread of the disease, which killed 1,056 pigs in Hongdong county, China’s Ministry of Agriculture said Feb. 10.

Widespread outbreaks of blue ear pig disease in 2006 and 2007 contributed to a shortage of pork and rising prices last year. China has since instituted a vaccination program across the country.

Beijing’s stricter controls over live pig transport and the vaccination campaign mean the chance of a large-scale outbreak is slim, unlike two years ago when about a million pigs died.

“There are some outbreaks of blue ear disease in small scale here and there, but not at a large scale since last year,” said Guo Huiyong, an analyst with Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant Ltd.

“The government requires all private breeders to vaccinate pigs and transport of live pigs is strictly controlled by the government.”

Diseases frequently spread through China’s pig-breeding industry, which in the past had low sanitary standards.

The Agriculture Ministry ordered local officials to track dead pigs so as not to contaminate the pork market.

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