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New Vaccine May Defeat Killer Pig Disease
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A killer pig disease which has ravaged porcine stocks in south China may soon be broken as Chinese veterinary officials on Thursday unveiled a new diagnostic reagent and vaccine, which they confidently claim could halt the outbreak.


The Ministry of Agriculture immediately stated that a mass immunization of pig stocks would be completed soon due to blue ear disease thriving during hot and humid conditions.


The disease -- officially named porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome -- is not dangerous for humans but is still listed as one of 61 class II animal epidemic diseases that must swiftly be brought to heel.


The vaccine developed jointly by the Chinese Center of Animal Disease Control and Prevention and the China Institute of Veterinary Drug Control will undergo its first run in the epidemic-stricken Guangdong Province.


"We will speed up the production and distribution of vaccines and simultaneously tighten quality supervision," said the ministry's release.


Veterinary departments are instructed to remain on their guards for reports of the disease and must notify authorities at once.


"Once the virus mutates, it will become more pathogenic and more difficult to cure," it warned.


A major problem in controlling the epidemic is the poor breeding conditions the pigs are kept in with farmers allowing the pigs to roam in open areas and the few pens are too rarely kitted out with effective anti-epidemic measures. The transportation of live pigs is also a contributing factor for the quick spread of the disease, the ministry's statement read.


To prevent such an outbreak from occurring again, a nationwide research plan will be carried out to create better preventive measures and emergency action plans.


Chinese epidemiologists have charted the disease's origins in China back to the mid-90s with the latest strand in the town of Silao near Yunfu was caused by a deadly mutation thereof.


Towards the end of April, over 300 pigs died from hemorrhaging after becoming feverish. The afflicted animals were those raised by individual farmsteads, not by industrial pig farms, negating any risk that infected animals were exported.


The government has also delivered two reports to the World Organization for Animal Health and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.


(Xinhua News Agency May 11, 2007)

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