Some 3 million pigs have been slaughtered in Vietnam since African swine fever was detected in February, making Vietnam the first Southeast Asian country to report an outbreak of a virus that has been devastating Chinese farmers for nearly a year.
The disease, which is harmless to humans but usually fatal to pigs, has spread rapidly. Only one of 63 Vietnamese provinces remained unaffected at the time of writing. Neighboring Cambodia confirmed its first outbreak in April; Laos followed in June. Thailand, one of Asia’s top pork producers, is poised for an outbreak.
“It’s just a matter of time,” says Dirk Pfeiffer, a professor in veterinary epidemiology at the City University of Hong Kong, about the likelihood of the virus spreading to other countries in the region.