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Pig epidemic brought under control
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China has brought blue-ear pig disease under control, Gao Hongbin, vice minister of agriculture, said at a press conference held on Monday.

The disease, which has been on the decline since it peaked in June, has been checked within all the epidemic outbreak areas, he said.

By Oct. 25, the highly pathogenic disease, also known as Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome, had infected 310,134 pigs in 1,030 epidemic outbreaks in 304 counties of 26 Chinese provincial areas, of which 81,030 died and 235,380 were culled, he said.

The dangerous husbandry disease can be fatal for pigs and is highly infectious. There is no effective cure to it, but vaccinated pigs are immune. The disease does no harm to human beings.

China has been carrying out a vaccination program and has tightened supervision on the transportation, trading and slaughtering of pigs to combat the disease, said Gao.

The epidemic has caused pork supply shortage and fuelled price rises in recent months, which resulted in a 6.5-percent increase in the consumer price index in August, an 11-year high.

Central and local governments have promised a fund of 14.6 billion yuan (US$1.9 billion) this year to encourage farmers to raise pigs and boost pork supplies.

By Oct. 18, the average price of pork in Chinese shops had dropped 11 percent from its peak in August.

Yet pressure on inflation from foodstuffs remained. For instance, in one week in October the price of peanut oil soared 10 percent in a single week in southern China's Guangdong Province.

China's consumer price index rose by 4.1 percent in the first nine months of this year compared with the same period in 2006, and the annual rate is expected to hit 4.5 percent by the year end.

Chinese police have arrested the producers of fake vaccines believed to have caused an outbreak of the blue-ear pig disease in central China's Hubei Province, the ministry of Agriculture said on Sunday.

A stock farm in Jiangling county of Hubei bought a batch of vaccine for the blue-ear pig disease in June through an illegal channel from Beijing, which resulted in an outbreak of the deadly pig epidemic, causing nearly 1 million yuan (US$133,690) of loss, said a ministry spokesman.

Investigations showed that the vaccines were fake products without any production licence and that the company did not exist.

Beijing police have arrested a key suspect and smashed three workshops that made the fake vaccine.

(Xinhua News Agency October 30, 2007)

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