FEARS are mounting about a global bacon shortage which could hit the UK and US after a highly contagious disease killed millions of pigs.
African swine fever has spread to more than 50 countries so far and can be carried by pigs and wild boars when they are dead or alive.
Most recently more than half of China's pig population, estimated around 300 million, died or were exterminated because of the virus.
In preparation for potential outbreak, US farmers in 14 states participated in practice drills, the Washington Post reported.
Bacon sarnie-loving Brits could also be affected by pork shortages or the risk of the virus reaching UK shores.
MASS EUROPEAN OUTBREAKS
Europe has witnessed 96 per cent of the outbreaks since August 2018, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health.
But they state the highest losses have taken place in Asia.
Cases have been reported in Australia, Poland, Romania, Vietnam, Laos, South Korea and the Philippines.
PORK PANDEMIC What is African swine fever?
THE contagious disease has led to millions of pigs worldwide and could cause global shortages.
There is a 100 per cent mortality rate as there is currently no cure or vaccine.
This outbreak of the virus is believed to have originated from Africa and then spread to Georgia through the transportation of pig products.
The spread was believed to have been worsened by wild boars. Insects including ticks may also be responsible.
The virus can survive after the animal has died, it can live on in processed meat for up to a few months and in frozen meat for up several years.
Currently the disease cannot be passed onto humans, although there are concerns about future mutations potentially affecting mankind.
It struck China too, where 78 stone (500kg or 1,102lbs) pigs were being bred to combat demand shortages for the meat.
China alone consumes half of the world's pork supplies.
The disease, which cannot currently be passed onto humans, spreads between pigs and wild boars.
NO VACCINE, NO CURE
There is currently no vaccine and no cure, so experts warn that preventing an outbreak is of paramount importance.
Infected pigs initially go off their food, before not wanting to move and then have fever-like symptoms, one experts says.
They then bleed throughout the body and inside their organs.
Up to 95 per cent of pigs with the virus die by the end of their second week with the infection.
VIRUS LIVES ON IN MEAT
The virus can live on in meat or cold cuts for weeks and when frozen it can survive up to several years, the Guardian report.
Animal feed or feed additives can also carry the infection.
Scott Dee, who is researching the virus, wants to see a quarantine period for feed to prevent any potential spread.
He said: “If it was me, I would ban the importation of soy products from African-swine-fever-infected states.”
It’s the nastiest disease we have on the planet.Dave Pyburn from America's National Pork Board
Experts believe farmers who use organic soy feeds for their pigs or hogs could particularly be at risk.
Generally they fear the increased dangers if the disease continues to spread.
Dave Pyburn, from the National Pork Board, in America, said: “It’s a higher probability, that’s for sure.
"But take a look at what this virus is doing around the globe today. And then look at the way goods and people travel.
"This would have a devastating effect on our industry. It’s the nastiest disease we have on the planet.”