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African swine fever respects no boundaries
ASF has already killed hundreds of millions of pigs worldwide
OIE warns no countries safe from its spread
 

African swine fever (ASF) will spread further across Asia where it has devastated herds, and no country is immune from being hit by the virus, the head of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has said.

The disease, which has hit the world’s top pork producer, China, hard, originated in Africa before spreading to Europe and Asia. It has been found in 50 countries, killing hundreds of million pigs, while reshaping global meat and feed markets; and it has been estimated that a quarter of the world’s pigs could die as a result of spread of the virus.

“We are really facing a threat that is global,” OIE director general, Monique Eloit, told Reuters in an interview. “The risk exists for all countries, whether they are geographically close or geographically distant because there is a multitude of potential sources of contamination.

“African swine fever, which is not harmful to humans, can be transmitted by a tourist bringing back a ham or sausage sandwich from a contaminated country, throwing it away and the garbage being reused by farmers to feed their pigs,” she said. “And there are additional risks from trading live animals and food products across borders and from small breeders using restaurant or train station waste to feed their stock; and in the short term we are not going towards an improvement.”

The disease has had a massive impact on pork production in China which last year accounted for half the world’s pigs – official figures show China’s herd is approximately 40 per cent down year-on-year and Rabobank predicts the herd will have halved by the end of the year.

China has already rapidly grown to become the UK’s biggest customer of pig meat. Pig meat exports so far this year to China alone are worth £93m, more than twice the value during the same period last year.

Speaking at the National Pig Association’s South Central Regional meeting in Newbury, analyst Duncan Wyatt predicted the Asian ASF crisis would ensure the global pork market remains “tight for the next year or two at least” – and, with new export plant approvals, the UK is in a better position to benefit.

“We have just started sending whole pigs in boxes to China. The high price makes it worth doing that. Until now, we might have considered China as a market for those parts of the animal we don’t eat as much, but this is an important tipping point, as it means China’s demand is overlapping with UK demand, which should have a good effect on prices,” he said.

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Celebrity chefs urge public to get baking to support Cats Protection fundraiser

News Story 1
 In support of Cats Protection's Pawsome Afternoon Tea fundraiser, Masterchef winner Tim Anderson and Great British Bake Off star Kim-Joy have shared biscuit recipes to help keen bakers raise money for needy cats across April.

The celebrity chefs are both cat owners and have said that they hope this fundraiser will help to raise awareness of cats in need and the importance of adopting a cat, rather than buying one.

This is the fourth year Cats Protection has run its Pawsome Afternoon Tea campaign, which encourages people to hold tea parties, bake sales and fundraising events to help raise money for the charity.

To view the recipes and other fundraising resources please visit the Cats Protection website. 

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News Shorts
BEVA offering free membership to vet students

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is offering free membership to veterinary students. As part of a new initiative with the aim of encouraging more veterinary professionals into equine practice.

According to BEVA, less than one in ten veterinary students choose to work in equine practice. The association hopes that this initiative will provide insight into the field and the benefits of a career in equine medicine.

Benefits of membership include:
▪ access to a network of nearly 3,000 members
▪ special student rates to attend BEVA Congress
▪ online access to BEVA's Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) journal
▪ free access to the association's online learning platform
▪ free access to BEVA's practical veterinary apps
▪ exclusive discounts on a range of things from cinema tickets to grocery shopping.

BEVA will be releasing a series of short videos over the next few months from BEVA Council members, explaining what inspired them to work in equine practice.

Image (c) BEVA.