Thousands of dead pigs, apparently dumped in China's Hungpau River, floated toward the nation's major business center at Shanghai. The greater concern is that the pigs may have died of a porcine virus called porcine circovirus type 2. While this virus is not considered a threat to humans, the threat to one of China's most important water supplies is the major concern. According to a March 11 article in the Los Angeles Times, 3,300 pig corpses have entered the water since last week.
The main suspects are pig-breeding farms in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. A possible source can be narrowed down to a huge pig-breeding farm in Jiaxing. The breeding facility’s tags were found on some of the pig corpses and more than 20,000 pigs are reported to have died there since January.
China has an estimated population of 470 million pigs, since pork is the nation's main dietary protein. The last large disease outbreak in china occurred in 2007, according to a March 11 article in the Wall Street Journal. In that incident, farmers killed about 50 million pigs after an outbreak of blue ear disease.
However, China has a history of making major environmental missteps, in this case by allowing pigs to grow in less than optimal conditions. While it is illegal for farmers to dump animal corpses into the rivers, the pig dumping was apparently done without hesitation.
According to a Nov. 3, 2000 article titled “Porcine Circovirus type 2” by Dr. Peter Bahnson, the disease is also called "Post-weaning Multisystemic Wasting Syndrome", or PMWS. Doctor Bahnson said, “Pigs are effective at reproducing viruses, and disease control or elimination remains, as always, an important component of efficient pig production.”
This is not the year’s first disaster for the Hungpau river, which supplies water to Shanghai and ultimately the Yangtze river. In January, a benzene spill sent twenty people to the hospital and forced Shanghai residents to go without running water for days.
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