Blue-eared Pig Disease Has Spread to 26 Chinese Provinces

by VR Sreeraman on Aug 19 2007 1:21 PM

A mystery virus that has killed tens of thousands of pigs in China has spread to 26 provinces, the agriculture ministry said Friday.

The ministry told the official Xinhua news agency that the highly infectious blue-eared pig disease was detected in north China's Shanxi province, making it the 26th out of the country's 33 provinces and regions that has been infected.

The ministry however stopped short of giving more details, saying more information will be given at a press conference next Monday, Xinhua said.

According to government statistics, the deadly swine virus had killed more than 40,000 pigs in China as of July and authorities had slaughtered thousands more in an attempt to stop the deadly disease from spreading.

Last month, state media reported that 165,144 pigs in 25 provinces had been infected with the disease between January to July.

Experts quoted in the Western media, however, expressed doubts about these figures, suspecting a more serious crisis as the virus turned more virulent after a mutation.

There were 482 million pigs across China as of 2004, according to the ministry's latest available statistics.