Are Guinea Pigs Starter Pets, Disposable, Boring & Dumb?
Deadly African swine fever arrives in China, the world’s largest producer of pigs
Africa swine fever, which recently appeared in Shenyang City, in Liaoning Province, northeastern China, threatens the USD150-billion global pig industry. African swine fever, an infectious and highly lethal viral disease of pigs, has for the first time reared its head in China. Just two weeks ago, African swine fever was confirmed as the cause of death of pigs on a small farm in Shenyang City, in Liaoning Province, located in the northeast, bordering North Korea and the Yellow Sea. China is the largest pig producer in the world, raising more than 500 million animals-about half of the global pig population. African swine fever is a highly contagious and deadly disease of domestic pigs.
Following detection of African swine fever in the Caucasus region in 2007, the China Animal Disease Control Center and the China Animal Health and Epidemiology Center of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs began to prepare the country for actions to take in the event the disease entered China. In the present case, some sick pigs died on the afternoon of 1 Aug 2018, with a preliminary diagnosis of African swine fever made by the Liaoning Animal Disease Control Center. Although African swine fever has been long-established in wild African pigs, the first scientific reports of an outbreak in domestic pigs came from Kenya in 1909 following the introduction of exotic pigs to the country. The epidemiology of African swine fever outside Africa is further complicated by spread of the virus by wild boars and there is good evidence that different breeds of pigs and wild boars have different levels of sensitivity to the virus. With China home not only to half the world’s total pig population but also to unique pig breeds and to a large population of wild boars, it is vital that the current outbreak of the disease is successfully controlled.
China agricultural universities on the genomic characterization of domestic pigs and wild boars in Asia and the genetic resistance of domestic pigs and wild boars to African swine fever. Related ILRI collaborative research activities on African swine fever conducted with partners in Europe and the USA focus on the socioeconomic impacts and epidemiology of the disease, surveillance of the disease, the response mechanisms pigs make to the disease, bio-security protocols in place in different pig value chains, and the comparative evolutionary biology of the African swine fever virus.
From Pigs to Peacocks, What’s Up With Those ‘Emotional-Support Animals’?
Concern is mounting over people’s asserted need for emotional support animals, as more seek accommodations for their pets and livestock in places not designed for bird or beast, said Phyllis Erdman, chair of the American Psychological Association’s section on human-animal interaction. Still, there’s anecdotal evidence, experts say, that some of the animals provide comfort to some people. More and more people are taking emotional support animals into places not meant for pets. It’s incredibly easy to have any critter classified as an emotional support animal, said Erdman, who led a symposium on the topic last week at the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting, in San Francisco. Mood disorders like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder are usually the reasons cited for assigning someone an emotional support animal, Erdman said.
The animals don’t have to be certified or trained, and there are no federal restrictions on the species, size or weight of an animal in an emotional support role, she added. Emotional support animals are allowed under federal housing law as a reasonable accommodation for a disabled person, she noted. These are working animals certified to pull wheelchairs, lead the blind, detect low blood sugar in diabetics, or remind people with bipolar disorder to take their medication. Some websites now act as letter mills for people who want their pet named as an emotional support animal, according to Erdman. Ochoa added, anecdotal reports have shown that the animals can provide benefit to some people.
To maintain the legitimacy of emotional support animals, Ochoa urges patients to know their animals well and consider how they will respond to other people in spaces that are usually off-limits to animals. The American Kennel Club has more about emotional support animals.
African swine fever is a highly contagious viral disease of pigs which is currently spreading in eastern and central Europe and has recently been found in China. The virus does not affect people but severe strains of the virus are often fatal to pigs of any age. If the disease were to reach the UK it would have a devastating effect on our export market and would also mean the humane culling of pigs on infected premises to prevent further spread. What you should do. If you keep pigs, you must not feed catering waste of any description, or domestic food waste, to your pigs.
If you are ever worried about the health of your pigs consult your veterinary surgeon immediately. The biggest risk of the disease entering the UK’s pig population is by pigs eating infected pork or pork products derived from infected pigs or wild boar. It also survives in pig faeces and in the blood of infected pigs or wild boar. The virus can therefore be spread on vehicles, equipment, clothing and boots contaminated by infected pigs or wild boar. If these people also happen to keep pigs, or work on pig farms, they could pass that contamination on to their pigs and introduce disease, but there are some straightforward actions they can take to prevent introduction.
Ensure that people who look after or visit your pigs understand the disease risk of bringing back meat products and in particular wild boar meat or pork/pork products from affected countries. Don’t bring meat products onto the farm to avoid accidental access to pigs. The presence of the disease in both commercial and backyard pigs in continental Europe means that there is an increased risk of introduction of African swine fever to pigs in the UK. It has also recently been detected in China.