Monday, June 16, 2008

Blue Ear Blues and Post-quake vaccinations

It was about a year ago, in mid-2007, that strange reports about the "blue ear disease" (porcine reproductive & respiratory syndrome or PRRS) in hogs first started coming out.

The Ministry of Agriculture rushed out a vaccine last year, but the top veterinarian, Dr. Jia Youling, announced on June 11, 2008 that "blue ear disease" is still present in 22 provinces (out of 31) this year. From January to May there were 289 outbreaks in 194 counties. Dr. Jia said 45,858 animals were affected, including 18,597 that died and 5,778 culled. This is only a tiny percentage of the hundreds of millions of pigs in China, but it sounds like the virus is spread over a wide area.

Dr. Jia says the Ministry is working with related technical departments to develop a vaccine, and they are within 3 months of completion. They have already selected 12 veterinary medicine companies to manufacture the vaccine.

Blue ear is just one of the many animal disease floating around in China. A news item from the Ministry of Agriculture animal husbandry bureau web site notes that officials are working hard to avoid potential animal disease in the earthquake aftermath. Veterinarians and animal health officials
in the Sichuan earthquake disaster zone have been busy disposing of dead livestock and disinfecting, and now they are doing emergency vaccinations of pigs for Japanese encephalitis, swine type II streptococcus, anthrax and rabies, and 4 kinds of human and animal diseases. It's estimated that they did 528,533 emergency rabies immunizations, 2,577,247 Japanese encephalitis immunizations of pigs, and 1,294,831 type II swine streptococcus immunizations. Of the 2.9 million cattle and sheep in Aba prefecture, over 1 million were "spring immune" (don't know how to translate this), and 1.3 million were given emergency anthrax immunizations. They are now monitoring animals for disease by testing samples.

Another article tells us that Chengdu City government has safely disposed of
80,453 dead hogs、2,845 cattle、8,786 sheep、1.78 million chickens、67,294 other animals、 and 2000 metric tons of fish in the earthquake zone of Dujiangyan, Pengzhou, Chongzhou, and Daba. They have done over 62,000 rabies vaccinations, 417,000 for (some pig brain disease), 58,700 for type II swine streptococcus.

These folks have been busy. That's a lot of shovels, needles, and vaccines. This is vitally important work that probably won't be recognized by many people.

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