Swine fever virus lurks in China tourist sausages
Processed pork products seized from a Chinese tourist in Phuket last Wednesday have been found to contain a viral strain of African Swine Fever (ASF), according to the Department of Livestock Development.
The tests were conducted on salami and sausages confiscated from a man who flew from Chengdu, the capital of China's southwestern Sichuan Province, to Phuket international airport, said Sorawit Thaneto, director-general of the Department of Livestock Development.
In total nine ASF-contaminated pork products have been seized from tourists, he said.
ASF is a fatal and incurable pig virus transmitted via direct content with an infected animal. The outbreak has crippled the swine farm industry in a number of countries.
It is not transmittable to humans but scientists warn this could change if a strain mutates.
The department has deployed stringent measures to check smuggled sausages from China recently to contain the risk.
"Strict inspections of processed pork products from overseas are now in place, in a bid to stave off an outbreak. If unchecked, ASF could decimate our swine farm industry," said Mr Sorawit.
Last week, the department invited the Association of Thai Travel Agents and the Thai-Chinese Tourism Alliance Association to seek closer cooperation in preventing tourists from bringing pork products into the country without permission.
They are now required to declare pork products when entering Thailand, Dr Sorawit said.
He said the department has confirmed that no case of African swine fever has been detected in Thailand. However, it has not lowered its guard because the disease keeps spreading in China, he said.
Mr Sorawit said farmers must monitor the health conditions of their animals and all swine farms must adhere to good practices.
The World Organisation for Animal Health announced there was an outbreak last year, listing 15 countries across Europe and African regions as well as Russia and China.
The Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory on Dec 25 to quarantine pork imported from those countries listed.