African swine fever virus confirmed in imported Thailand sausages

Sausages contained in an intercepted package from Thailand have been confirmed to have been infected with the African swine fever (ASF) virus, the Central Emergency Operation Center (CEOC) for ASF revealed on Thursday.

The Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture's (COA) Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ), which oversees the CEOC, said that a package from Thailand was first flagged by a post office in Tainan on Dec. 15 after it was detected as containing sausages.

A lab test conducted on the package Dec. 17 revealed that the items had the ASF virus.

The Thai sausages once again tested positive for the virus at a COA lab on Dec. 22, confirming the initial result.

This marks the first time that the ASF virus have been detected in pork products from Thailand, the CEOC said.

The COA also added that while pork products found in the luggage of a Thai traveler had been found to have had the virus about three months ago, the food could not be deemed as originating from Thailand due to a lack of labeling and the fact that the traveler had entered from China.

According to the BAPHIQ, Thailand has yet to report any ASF cases to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The intercepted package from Thailand will be returned, with the case reported to the nation's OIC representative, the CEOC said.

The bureau also said that since Thailand and its bordering neighbors are interconnected to China, the CEOC had anticipated through risk assessment done back in 2019 that the ASF virus would eventually make its way to penetrate all of Southeast Asia.

As a result, traveler luggage, express mail, and packages from Southeast Asian countries have been subjected to detailed inspections, including X-rays, upon entry into Taiwan, BAPHIQ said.

The CEOC warned that in light of the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays, people should refrain from sending or receiving pork products into Taiwan.

Should packages containing these products be collected in Taiwan, it must be turned in to a BAPHIQ sanctioned agency to be destroyed.

Under the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Diseases, violators who do not comply with regulations can be subjected to a fine between NT$30,000 (US$1,081.37) and NT$150,000, CEOC said.

The center also added that the ASF pandemic is still relatively serious in Asia, having officially been found in China, Mongolia, Vietnam, North Korea, South Korea, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, India, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel