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China urges vaccination against disease that has killed 18,000 pigs

Posted on: June 5, 2007

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BEIJING – A disease that has killed 18,000 pigs and helped send pork prices soaring in China is likely to get worse, the government said Tuesday, as it called for a vaccination drive to stem the epidemic. Over 45,000 pigs have been hit by the highly pathogenic “blue-ear disease” between January and May, even before the peak season of the summer and fall has started. The ministry urged animal medical factories to produce more vaccine, while ordering local veterinarian stations to implement vaccination and disease control measures. The ministry also banned the sale and transport of sick pigs. China’s consumer inflation rose three percent in the first quarter over the same period last year, while food prices were up 7.1 percent in April year-on-year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. China is the world’s biggest pork producing nation, producing, slaughtering and consuming up to 50 percent of the world’s annual pig harvest. In 2002, China raised 457 million of the world’s 939 million pigs, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation Prices of live pigs jumped 71.3 percent in April nationwide while pork, an essential ingredient in a vast range of staple Chinese dishes, rose 29.3 percent, state media reported earlier, quoting Ministry of Agriculture figures.The rise in prices prompted Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to personally step in and call for measures to ensure pork supplies, while warning that rising costs for the staple meat could lead to social instability.

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