CHINA, Beijing. In China, the administration of illegal African swine fever (ASF) vaccines appears to be a major problem.
In any case, the Ministry of Agriculture felt compelled again last week to warn against such a practice, which is punishable by law. The ministry pointed out that there is not yet an approved vaccine against this animal disease in any country in the world. What is being offered, it said, are counterfeit vaccines that pose a safety risk and run counter to all measures and efforts to combat the disease.
Australia's chief veterinarian Mark Schipp had recently not ruled out the possibility that the new ASF variants in China were the result of the use of an illegally manufactured vaccine rather than natural mutation. "The deletions, the loss of a section of DNA, that we see in this virus are the same deletions that are used in vaccine development," Schipp reported.
Beijing's agriculture department now called on all local animal husbandry and veterinary departments in the country to take firm action against the illegal production and use of the banned vaccines. The production facilities for veterinary medicines must be inspected more intensively and unannounced, and possible violations must be reported immediately. When testing for ASF, attention must also be paid to strains with gene deletion and, in the event of a positive result, tracing and monitoring for the use of unauthorized vaccines must take place.
The ministry pointed out that ASF-vaccinated pigs could not be marketed and slaughtered, and those responsible at the producers would be banned from working for life. There is a reward of up to CNY 30,000 for information on confirmed illegal vaccine producers. This is equivalent to around 3,867 €. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture has officially reported three ASF cases so far in March. In Yunnan and Hubei provinces, infected animals were found during illegal piglet transports. In addition, a farm with 127 pigs in Sichuan province was affected. The three provinces are among the pig strongholds in China; together, around 130 million pigs were slaughtered there last year.