The number of dead pigs recovered from the Huangpu River in Shanghai rose above 6,600 after another 685 carcasses were plucked out of the waters as of yesterday afternoon.
The Shanghai government said it will move its fishing team further upstream to the border of Zhejiang Province to prevent water pollution.
It said more fishing boats were put into action over fears that yesterday's rain may increase the flow of the river downstream.
Meanwhile, a pig farm in Zhejiang's Jiaxing City yesterday confessed to dumping dead pigs into the Huangpu River, Xinhua news agency reported without naming the farm or giving any specific number of dead pigs it had dumped into the water.
The admission came after a preliminary investigation traced the birthplace of some of the dead pigs found floating in a section of the Huangpu River between Shanghai and Jiaxing, the Jiaxing government said.
Shanghai has provided 14 ear tags collected from the dead pigs, and Jiaxing is still investigating 13 of these tags, Xinhua said.
According to the Jiaxing government, a total of 70,000 pigs died due to crude raising techniques and extreme weather at the beginning of the year. All the collected corpses were disposed of safely, and no mass swine epidemic had broken out in the region so far.
Porcine circovirus was detected during previous tests carried out by the Shanghai Animal Diseases Control and Prevention Center.
Jiaxing has more than 100,000 households who raise pigs. The city accounts for a quarter of the pigs raised in Zhejiang Province and sells about 4.5 million pigs every year.
According to the animal husbandry department of Jiaxing, the normal fatality rate of pigs is about 3 percent, which means 135,000 pigs die every year.
The current 600 treating sites in Jiaxing are not enough to meet the big number of dead pigs, and many of the villagers dump the bodies in the fields or into the river, according to the Oriental Morning Post.
Last year, the Ministry of Agriculture unveiled a policy to offer an 80 yuan (US$1.29) subsidy for every dead pig given to the government for safe disposal but Jiaxing villagers said they never got any.
Meanwhile, Shanghai has dispatched more than 230 boats to its Jinshan and Qingpu districts and strict monitoring is being carried out in the waters crisscrossing between Shanghai and its neighboring provinces.
Shanghai has also set up an aquatic plant barrier in Songjiang District and increased the frequency of water quality checks. Circovirus, which was detected in the dead pigs, has been added as a key indicator in water quality monitoring. Streptococcus suis, salmonella and Escherichia coli O157 were also being tested in the city water.
Officials said the dead pigs mainly affected six water intakes and nine water plants in Songjiang, Jinshan, Minhang and Fengxian districts.
The water supply of the affected intakes and plants was 2.41 million tons per day, accounting for 22 percent of the city's total. But officials said the quality of water after purification was up to the national sanity standard.I well recall the chilly, overcast Christmas Eve day of 1983, when the power was off on the campus of the Guangzhou Institute of Foreign Languages. My wife and I went for a walk, if only to keep warm, and visited the village across the road from the campus. We got a cordial welcome from a prosperous family who were building a new storey on their house. They proudly showed off their pig sty, within steps of their living room, and populated with some very big pigs.
This was almost 30 years ago, in the dawn of the Chinese economic liftoff that we all now live in. Deng Xiaoping and the other Long March veterans who launched us also pulled hundreds of millions of Chinese from abject poverty into prosperity China had never imagined. One consequence is a Shanghai skyline out of a science-fiction movie.
Another consequence of that prosperity is an enormous appetite for animal protein. With higher incomes, millions of Chinese are eating more meat than their ancestors ever dreamed of. An unleashed appetite for wild civet also unleashed the SARS virus. The taste for chicken and duck has built a poultry population bomb, not only in southern Guangdong province but across the country; dangerous new avian influenzas are the result.
Strep suis has set off some small, nasty outbreaks in China in recent years, and the sheer numbers of swine—raised in bad conditions to serve an insatiable market—mean still more diseases are likely to figure out how to make the leap from pigs to people.
We are living in an age of catastrophic success. When the Greek king Pyrrhus beat the invading Romans, at a terrible cost, he accurately prophesied: "Another such victory, and I am undone."
We in North America and Europe enjoy no special privileges; we just don't see our own dead livestock floating down the St. Lawrence or the Hudson or the Thames. Yet.
The last thirty years have been humanity's Pyrrhic victory over poverty and disease. Good luck getting away with it for another thirty years.