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PIG TROUBLE

How China’s swine fever epidemic turned into a global crisis

  • Isabelle Niu
By Isabelle Niu

Video journalist, host of "Because China"

Hebei Province, China

This story is part of an ongoing Quartz series on how China is reshaping our world.

Over one February night,  in the northern Chinese province of Hebei, 5,600 pigs were slaughtered and buried in a mass grave.  Similar executions have been carried out all across the country to try to stem the spread of African swine fever, or ASF.  The virus doesn’t affect humans but kills nearly all pigs it infects.

In just a year, ASF has wiped out about half of China’s pig herd, the largest in the world, and has since spread to neighboring countries in Asia. It’s causing huge price hikes within China and massive disruptions in the global market for meat.

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