China says pig disease infections down in October

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BEIJING, Nov 8 (Reuters) The number of hogs affected by blue ear disease in China dropped significantly last month due to a new vaccination campaign, state media quoted the Agriculture Minister as saying.

In the period between October 1 and October 25, 3,608 pigs were infected, an 87 percent decrease from the previous month, the official Xinhua news agency cited a ministry statement as saying.

There were 29 outbreaks in the same period, a drop of 65 per cent from September, while the number of deaths slid 91 per cent to 710, it added.

A new, Chinese-produced vaccine was ''safe, effective and has a protection rate of 88.2 percent'', the report said.

''Vaccines with a protection rate lower than 80 per cent are banned,'' it added.

The outbreak of the disease, which began in May 2006, spread throughout China before being acknowledged by the government earlier this year. It has killed around 1 million pigs and appears to be more contagious than previous outbreaks of the disease.

The subsequent shortage of pork has helped drive inflation in China.

The government said last month the disease, also known as Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome, had peaked in June and was coming under control.

But police also said at the time they had discovered and destroyed three workshops that made fake vaccine.

Pig farmers tried last year to inoculate their herds by injecting them with blood from sick pigs, a home remedy that can backfire, industry officials say.

REUTERS GT BD0940

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