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Blue-eared Pig Disease Could Be Behind Deaths
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Initial indications suggest that porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), or blue-eared pig disease, has caused the deaths of more than 300 pigs in Yunfu, in southern China's Guangdong Province.

The disease, which broke out late last month, was the result of a secondary bacterial infection by the PRRS virus, according to a statement released yesterday by the provincial department of agriculture.

The PRRS virus entered China from overseas in the mid 1990's and has recently shown signs of mutation. It cannot spread from animals to people and is said to be under control in the district.

Tests for the disease are available, and a vaccine against the disease has received State approval and is to be distributed soon, said the statement.

Meanwhile, Yang Weixin, head of Silao Town, where most of the pig deaths occurred, denied overseas media reports that more than 80 percent of the 10,000 pigs in the area had died.

He said the pigs produced there were mostly consumed locally. Media reports said sales of pork in the affected area had dropped significantly since the outbreak.

The Yunfu city government previously organized mass sterilizations in places affected by the disease, as well as in pig markets and slaughterhouses. It has also prohibited the transport and slaughter of live pigs from the affected areas.

Dead pigs, most of which belonged to individual farmers, have been buried deep underground and far from sources of water.

Meanwhile, the provincial department of agriculture has called for strict measures to ensure sterilization, vaccination and supervision to prevent further outbreaks of pig diseases.

(China Daily May 10, 2007)

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