China reports first African swine fever outbreak, culls hogs

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China reported its first outbreak of the deadly African swine fever (ASF) on Friday, as authorities in Liaoning province in the country's northeast culled almost 1,000 hogs and rushed to control the highly contagious disease.

News of the infection will stoke concerns about its spread in the world's largest pig herd and to Japan, the Korean Peninsula and other parts of Asia. Cases have been recorded across Europe, Russia and sub-Saharan Africa, but it has never occurred in East Asia until now, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Some 913 hogs were slaughtered near Shenyang, capital of Liaoning, and the outbreak had been effectively contained, the provincial animal health bureau said.

"If it can be put under control, it should not be a problem ... but we have to watch the developments very carefully," said Yao Guiling, an analyst with consultancy China-America Commodity Data Analytics.

"If the disease gets out of control, the losses will be immeasurable."

ASF occurs among pigs and wild boars. It is transmitted by ticks and direct contact between animals, and its effects are often deadly. There is no vaccine.

The disease does not affect humans.

(Reporting by Hallie Gu and Josephine Mason; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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