Published Date: 2005-08-04 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Streptococcus suis, porcine, human - China (06)
Archive Number: 20050804.2266
STREPTOCOCCUS SUIS, PORCINE, HUMAN - CHINA (06)
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Date: Thu 4 Aug 2005
From: ProMED-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Source: Reuters Alertnet, 4 Aug 2005 [edited]
China shutters slaughterhouse for killing sick pigs
Health inspectors have shut down an illegal slaughterhouse in
northeastern China for butchering sick pigs, part of a sweeping
effort to contain a swine flu [sic] outbreak that has killed 38
people. [The use of the term "swine flu" is misleading; see
moderator's comment in 20050802.2246].
Inspectors swooped down on the unregistered abattoir in the city of
Gongzhuling in Jilin province this week [1st week August 2005], and
found it had been supplying meat to a sausage factory in the
provincial capital, Changchun, which had also been shut down.
"Inspectors found 6 to 8 tons of pork in the underground
slaughterhouse, and our tests showed at least one ton came from pigs
who had died of illness," Liu Tienan, head of the provincial health
inspection bureau, told Reuters.
Tienan said that, while meat from the slaughterhouse had definitely
entered the local market, it was too early to tell whether any came
from sick animals.
The crackdown marked a hardening of China's effort to combat the
spread of a deadly swine flu [sic] outbreak, which has infected 206
people who have butchered, handled or eaten meat from pigs infected
with the _Streptococcus suis_ bacteria in the southwestern province
The Agriculture Ministry issued an order on Wednesday [3 Aug 2005] to
officials nationwide to prevent butchering, transport or sale of sick
pigs, or those that have died rather than been slaughtered.
While Jilin has reported no human cases of the deadly infection,
authorities are taking no chances. Liu said that both the abattoir
and sausage factory, the only one to receive the potentially
dangerous pork, were closed on Tuesday [2 Aug 2005].
Police had detained the owner of the slaughterhouse, the Jilin-based
East Asia Economic and Trade News reported.
Authorities have repeatedly told farmers in Sichuan province to
safely bury all sick pigs, but many poor farmers have ignored the
orders and continued killing and consuming infected animals.
Cities across China have tightened border screens to block pork from
disease-hit areas of Sichuan, but some has been getting through the
A food trade company in Guangzhou, in Guangdong province, brought in
8.5 tons of pork from swine flu [sic] stricken areas in June ,
the China Daily said. All but 525 kg (1155 lb) had already been
bought from markets by the time authorities realized the threat on 30
Jul 2005, it said.
The one man infected in Guangdong contracted the bacteria through a
wound on his hand as he slaughtered a sick pig, the newspaper said.
He was treated and released from the hospital.
Swine flu [sic] is endemic in most pig-rearing countries, but human
infections are rare and can be treated with antibiotics if caught in
Although China's state media has said no human-to-human infections
have been found in Sichuan, the death toll is considered unusually
high, with a mortality rate of about 20 percent.
[The media-carried disease of Chinese pigs remains obscure: "sick
pigs" are blamed for the human disease and deaths, but no clinical
symptoms, postmortem changes or laboratory results from pigs have
become available in an orderly, professional or official manner. This
unfortunate lacuna, and the use of misleading terminology such as
"swine flu," may breed undesirable rumors (for example,
The Chinese crackdown on illegal abattoirs should have taken place in
any event. Illegal slaughter of animals -- avoiding official ante-
and postmortem veterinary inspection -- worries veterinary and
public-health authorities in many countries. Inspecting the animals
prior to slaughter is meant to facilitate the timely detection of
disease; if suspected, the slaughter might be precluded altogether,
or lab tests of the meat and offal prescribed to enable deciding
whether their release for human consumption should be permitted. A
recent example was the initial detection of Foot and mouth disease
(FMD) in a consignment of pigs on arrival to a London abattoir in
2001. Detecting pathological changes during the post-slaughter meat
inspection will prevent the dissemination of harmful food; an
example, related to pork, is _Trichinella spiralis_.
On Mon 1 Jul 2005, the Hong Kong authorities said that, to better
monitor the situation, they would classify _Streptococcus suis_ as a
statutorily notifiable disease, which would require all local doctors
to report cases (in humans) to the government. They also stepped up
inspections and quarantine procedures on live pigs and frozen pork
imported from mainland provinces and said they would crack down on
illegal pork imports.