Monday, May 24, 2010

Watch Out for Animal Diseases

Disease continues to be a problem among China's livestock. Last month, this blog reported on dead pigs in the river in Guangzhou and underground slaughterhouses in Shenzhen that serve up the meat from dead pigs. In February there was an outbreak of Type-O foot and mouth disease in over 1,400 pigs outside Guangzhou. In 2009, Type-A foot and mouth disease appeared in China for the first time and there have now been outbreaks in Wuhan, Shanghai, and Xinjiang. Also, last year there was a strange new disease affecting the immune system of ducks that was estimated to have infected one-third of the ducks in Shandong.

This picture appeared in an article about an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the Guangzhou Daily in February.

On May 21, Vice Minister Gao Jibing stressed the seriousness of the situation at a work meeting on animal disease prevention and control held in Lanzhou. He commanded officials to carry out immunization programs, report problems promptly, strengthen emergency preparedness, and keep a close eye on border areas.

Despite the "remarkable results" of animal disease prevention work, Gao described the major animal disease control work situation as still grim/severe, and said prevention and control are difficult tasks.

According to the article, "Recently, Type-O foot and mouth disease have broken out in some regions, and highly pathogenic blue ear disease, and highly pathogenic avian influenza are still hidden problems."

Gao warned, "...prevention and control work is still a weak link in some regions, inadequate attention is paid to prevention and control work, thought is too relaxed, and immunizations are not in place."

Gao's remarks to the provincial officials stressed seven points for battling disease problems.

First, strengthen disease monitoring and control. The strategy assigns the government responsibility for making sure animals get immunized, and companies are responsible for making sure vaccines are good quality. "...organize assessments of antibody monitoring and immunization effectiveness, preserve vaccine quality."

A lot of problems arise among feeder pigs being transported to markets or grow-out farms (a lot of the dead pigs in rivers are small pigs). Gao told officials to strengthen vaccination measures for piglets prior to transportation, making sure feeder pigs transported are within the effective period of vaccines.

Second, each region should establish a vaccine surveillance system, raise vaccine early warning capability, strengthen prevention work direction and raise efficiency. Increase the frequency and intensity of vaccination reporting, achieve timely detection of problems, "ruling out hidden epidemics."

Third, continue pushing animal health monitoring system reforms, set up complete animal health monitoring enforcement system, raise monitoring enforcement capability and level. Carry out strict quarantine in production areas and slaughter houses. Increase animal health monitoring check stations on highways enforcement to prevent spread of disease from region to region. Strictly require interregional transport of pigs to be reported by recipients to health monitoring organizations within 24 hours of arrival. Do a good job on special disease control work for the Shanghai world expo and Guangzhou Asian Games.

Fourth, each locality must strictly guide livestock enterprises’ comprehensive disease prevention management, focusing on larger-scale livestock farms and livestock production zones. Cull animals and close down farms for disinfection and use other control measures, standardize livestock activities, raise livestock enterprise biosafety level.

Fifth, improve emergency planning, strengthen emergency response training and drills, and stock up on emergency materials. Do a good job on preparations for outbreaks of various epidemics, assign responsibilities, put personnel in place, maintain information flow. When epidemics occur, do a good job on prompt reporting, effective and timely response.

Sixth, focus efforts on border areas. Close coordination between departments, strengthen joint prevention and control to improve control at the border. Xinjiang and other regions must establish a solid border immunization system, strengthen border region inspections and monitoring, and closely watch the external epidemic situation. Strictly crack down on smuggling of animals and their products, prevent external diseases from entering.

Finally, Gao Jibin stressed that each region must strengthen organizational leadership, seriously implementing the disease responsibility system, strengthening monitoring, paying close attention to policy measures. "Do a good job on propaganda work for publicizing laws and control epidemics to maintain a good social environment."

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