China announced Monday that the so-called high fever disease, or blue ear disease, has killed off 18,597 pigs in the country in the first five months of this year, affecting 22 provinces. Another 45,858 were reported to have been infected by the disease. So far, the authorities have slaughtered 5,778 pigs to prevent further spread of the virus.
The head of the Chinese Agriculture Ministry's veterinary department, Jia Youling, said that the viral infection, also known as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, has affected about 0.2 percent of the country's pig population.
The Chinese government said it plans to provide about $37.13 million worth of free vaccines to smaller-sized farms, where the disease was particularly rampant last year.