Border officials in Thailand are on ‘red alert’ for infected pork from neighboring countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam or China where the deadly African swine fever has ravaged domestic pig populations.

Thailand has a big pork industry. It produces more than 2 million pigs a year and exports about 40% to Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

African swine fever kills almost all the pigs it infects, which led to it being likened it to a ‘pig ebola’. So, there have been crackdowns at illegal abattoirs, plus ramped-up inspections at border checkpoints and airports.

Government officials say Thailand doesn’t import live hogs or pork meat, plus visitors are not permitted to bring processed pork products into the country.

The Livestock Department has said officials have been confiscating pork products for months – 550 times since August, and it has detected 43 lots with the virus.

The Thai Swine Raisers Association said the government is anxious to keep the disease out. But officials are also aware that the country’s long porous borders increase the risk of the disease eventually getting in. The virus can reportedly survive in uncooked meat for a long period of time, so industry officials are also preparing to minimize any outbreak if the disease gets in.

Last month the government approved a $4.7 million budget to prepare for an outbreak, after being told that if half the country’s pigs are infected it could cause economic losses of about $1 billion.