U.S. authorities have started active preparations in response to the rising threat of an outbreak of African swine fever, the deadly disease that has decimated the Chinese pig population and is spreading across Asia.

The Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service led several functional exercises and drills late last month, working off a scenario of an outbreak of the virus in Mississippi that traveled across state lines before it was discovered. Fourteen states participated in the drill.

“We got everyone involved in terms of state troopers, diagnostic labs, private veterinarians and state officials, trying to figure out where the virus was,” said Dave Pyburn, the senior vice president of science and technology for the National Pork Board. “As far as controlling it here, the closer we can get to that index case [the first identified case in an outbreak], the better we can control it.”

 

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