Health officials 'very worried' as African swine fever spreads in Europe and Asia

Veterinarians inspect a dead boar during an African swine fever outbreak exercise in Germany in June.

Story highlights

  • China has culled tens of thousands of pigs in response to outbreaks this summer
  • Wild boars and human behavior are believed to be the main causes of spread in Europe

(CNN)Global health officials are preparing for African swine fever, which has been spreading in pigs across borders since 2014, reaching Western Europe last week.

Humans are suspected to have caused the recent spread to Belgium, where eight cases were confirmed, as of September 25, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health.
    The most recent cases, however, were reported September 25 in a Chinese slaughterhouse in Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, according to the organization. There have been 29 outbreaks in China since the first case was reported August 3. China has culled nearly 40,000 pigs in response, according to the the organization's database.
    The virus reached China this summer and arrived in Western Europe for the first time in September in a separate simultaneous outbreak, leaving officials worried.
    As of Friday, Belgium had culled 4,000 domestic pigs from the Étalle region, according to the country's national federation of slaughterhouses, cutting plants and wholesalers for pork. Thirteen countries have banned some sort of pork imports from Belgium: Taiwan, South Korea, Serbia, Singapore, China, Belarus, Australia, Japan, Philippines, Mexico, Uruguay, Malaysia and India.