Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Pork sausage fragments originating from China's Shandong Province and tossed out at an airport in Taiwan tested positive for African swine fever, a Taiwanese official said Monday.
Huang Chin-cheng, the deputy minister of the Council of Agriculture, said Monday the pork product discarded by mainland Chinese travelers was tested on Jan. 22, and was found to contain a highly contagious virus found in pigs, Taiwan's Central News Agency reported.
Chinese officials have confirmed in the past cases of ASF in the city of Shenyang, Liaoning Province. Authorities have not said the disease has affected farms in the coastal province of Shandong.
On Monday, Huang said China has reported 109 cases of ASF in 25 Chinese provinces, but Shandong is not on the official list.
Chinese authorities have responded to the contagion with the ordered slaughter of 950,000 pigs across the country. Parts of China that have remained unaffected are Xinjiang, Tibet, the island of Hainan and Hebei Province.
In Taiwan, the government is investigating local pig farms to check whether they are upgrading to prevent the spread of swine fever.
Swine fever fears are on the rise in the region as Japan battles an "extremely serious situation" at pig farms in central and western regions.
Kyodo News reported last week Japan could slaughter as many as 15,000 pigs to prevent the spread of the disease.
"It worries me that we don't know how the disease is spreading," said a pig farmer in Iida, Nagano Prefecture, according to Kyodo. "The only thing we can do is to thoroughly manage hygiene."
There is no cure for African swine fever in pigs. When infected, groups of pigs lie huddled together shivering, breathing abnormally, and sometimes even coughing. Within days of infections, the pigs enter a comatose state and die.