UN gathers experts to stop swine fever pandemic

A farm worker walks along a row of caged pigs in China

A farm worker walks along a row of caged pigs in China

The epidemic has killed a total of 12 pigs and sickened 39 in one local farm, MoARA said. The reason for the ban is stated to be the cases of African plague on Bulgaria's pig farms. Experts from outside of the region will also attend as will participants from the private commercial swine sector.

Since then, five other cases have been reported in other areas of China as much as 1,000 kilometers apart.

"That's why this emergency meeting has been convened - to assess where we are now and to determine how we can work together in a co-ordinated, regional response".

Researchers believe the virus may have been introduced to China through contaminated food that was fed to pigs and, therefore, could spread to other countries the same way. It has shut live pig markets in the regions, effectively preventing slaughterhouses and meat processing factories from using pigs or pork from affected regions.

Pork prices in the country's populous south have spiked as demand rises ahead of a week-long holiday in October and highlights the prospect of imports.

Neighbouring countries have taken steps to keep the disease out, with Japan among the first to ban Chinese pork imports. The disease has since spread south prompting a cull of 38,000 pigs.

"Judging from the current situation, although the situation in China is complicated and the task of prevention and control is extremely arduous, the current epidemic is generally under control", Guang added.

The strain detected in China is similar to one that infected pigs in eastern Russian Federation and neighbouring countries in 2017 and Chinese authorities believe the outbreaks originated from outside the country.

Information from August shows that the virus has spread rapidly in the mainland and there is the fear that infected pork in China might be used to make processed food products which could end up in Taiwan, Lin said.