A senior Chinese veterinary official has denied a foreign media report that "blue-ear disease" has caused the death of 20 million pigs.
Li Jinxiang, deputy director of the veterinary bureau of the Ministry of Agriculture, said that there had been an outbreak of blue-ear disease but "it is impossible" that so many pigs have died.
In an FT.com report on Wednesday, an unidentified industry executive was quoted as saying "I have heard that it (blue-ear disease) has killed as many as 20m hogs."
Li said he was aware of the report, but the death rate from the disease was not that dramatic.
He added that the Ministry of Agriculture is sorting out statistics and will release them soon, according to Thursday's China Business News.
Blue-ear disease is an animal epidemic that can seriously endanger the pig-breeding industry. It broke out in some areas of China in the summer-autumn period of 2006, causing a temporary shortage of piglets, the report says.
Information from the Ministry of Agriculture said that the number of pigs infected has dropped sharply and the epidemic situation is stable.
In April this year, the average wholesale price of pork was 12.99 yuan/kg, up 35.5 percent year-on-year.
(Xinhua News Agency May 31, 2007)