Revealed: The price of bacon could DOUBLE if disease sweeping through Asia spreads to Australia – and 34,000 jobs are at risk of being ‘decimated’
- African swine fever is a highly-contagious and lethal virus that only infects pigs
- The deadly virus forced China to cull more than 50 per cent of pork production
- There is no treatment available, and the only solution is to cull the infected
- Analysts predict Australian protein prices could soar by almost 90 per cent
Biosecurity officials are on full alert at Australia’s borders as the pig-killing African swine fever sweeps through Asia.
South Korea, Australia’s third largest trading partner, confirmed it had an outbreak of the disease earlier this month, while China was forced to cull 50 per cent of its pork production, equating to more than two million pigs.
China is home to half the world’s hogs, and while the disease does not effect humans, it is lethal to pigs with a 100 per cent mortality rate, and there is no vaccine.
Federal Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie fears the disease could spread to Australian farms.
Biosecurity officials are on full alert at Australia’s borders as the pig-killing African swine fever sweeps through Asia (pictured: a dead pig being quarantined in Vietnam)
‘We are doing everything we can to ensure African swine fever does not reach our shore,’ she told Sky News on Sunday.
‘It would decimate our 2,700 pork producers and the 34,000 jobs that go along with that industry.’
She believes it will have repercussions for global trade for decades.
The outbreak in Europe and other parts of Asia including Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, North Korea and Philippines has already lifted Australian pork prices by 54 per cent in 12 months, The West reported.
There have been recent outbreaks of the virus in Europe and other parts of Asia (pictured: an infected pig in Europe)
‘The volume of pigs killed in Asia is huge and is flowing over to all forms of protein,’ Mecardo analyst Andrew Whitelaw said.
‘Pig prices in Australia are increasing, as are lamb and mutton prices … beef exports into China have also gone through the roof.’
The publication also reported pork prices in China have skyrocketed by 89 per cent since January this year, and Australia could follow suit.
‘It’s a bigger story in my view than the trade war we are seeing between China and the US,’ Mr Whitelaw told ABC.
Experts warn that if pigs in China (pictured) continue to become infected, the cost of all proteins will rise
‘It has a flow-on effect to all these other commodities like mutton, chicken … We’re seeing increase in price for North Atlantic salmon, so we’re seeing it spread across (global) commodities.’
Mercando analysis believe the fatal disease has already killed one quarter of the world’s pigs to date.
But Australia is determined to keep its ‘gold standard’ pest and disease free status as an exporter.
Senator McKenzie said there was increased screening of people and parcels coming in from affected nations.
Mercando analysis believe the fatal disease has already killed one quarter of the world’s pigs to date (pictured: quarantine bins for infected pigs in Asia)
Since that started 27 tonnes of cooked pork product had been detected through Australian borders.
‘People are still disregarding our biosecurity laws,’ she said.
‘We can send them home, we can slap significant fines on them and I’ll be encouraging our biosecurity officials to be doing exactly that with those offenders.’
Mr Whitelaw said feeding contaminated pork to a pig would have catastrophic consequences.
AFRICAN SWINE FEVER
African swine fever (ASF) was first detected outside Africa in 1957, in Portugal.
It is a highly-contagious viral disease and is 100 per cent lethal to pigs.
The virus infects pigs, warthogs, European wild boar, American wild pigs, bush pigs, giant forest hogs and peccaries.
Blood-sucking creatures (flies, mosquitoes, ticks) can contaminate large areas.
There is no cure and no treatment available, and the only way to limit the spread is by contained culling.
Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, hemorrhaging on the skin and internal organs. Diarrhea, vomiting, coughing and breathing difficulties.
The virus takes between two and 10 days to kill its host.
Unlike swine flu that emerged around 2009 and effected humans, ASF is only dangerous to pigs.
The contagious nature of the virus means all infected meat should be disposed of and not ingested by humans.
Source: The Washington Post and The Guardian