In China, there is an ongoing epidemic of African swine fever. The disease is not a threat to people, but primarily infects pigs. The native
porcine species of Africa appear to be immune and even are the vector for the virus, but domestic pigs are anything but immune. The virus causes
extremely high mortality in pigs. And, yes, the virus causes a hemorrhagic fever when a pig is infected, not all that dissimilar to ebola in people.
However, as stated, it is not CURRENTLY a threat to people.
Pigs are a fantastic way to have zoonosis strike, so the Chinese have been aggressive in dealing with the disease. When found in a farm, the
Chinese have been wiping out all the pigs present. Slaughtering them all and even the surrounding farms. The potential for a zoonotic - a leap from
animals to people for a disease - and the outright threat to the Chinese food supply (pork being one of the preferred meats in their cuisines), one
could see why they are being so aggressive.
Attacking food sources for nations is not new. Scorched earth campaigns have been the norm for defenders for a long, long time and raiders would
often attack food supplies, destroying or devastating them, to win wars. It was often worried during the Cold War that the Soviet Union would release
pathogens to attack food supplies in the US, especially on the grains like wheat. None of that ever happened as the Cold War ended prior to any World
War III outbreak.
There was always a possibility that nonstate actors/entities might use weapons of this sort outside of a WW3 scenario. After 9/11, this was and is a
major concern. In the US, plots were either foiled or sputtered out (re the anthrax attacks). However, in China, something else has happened.
Remember the african swine fever epidemic? Well, it's getting a helping hand. No, not to wipe it out, but to use it against the farmers. Gangs are
threatening farmers: sell the pigs to the gang at much lower price than market or else. If the farmer refuses, the gang will send drones carrying
contaminated pork offal into pig farms. That pork offal is pork meat contaminated by african swine fever. The pigs, being omnivores like people,
eat the offal and then the fever spreads through the farm like wild fire and the Chinese government then destroys all the pigs.
The farmers are desperate to stop the gangs: either they lose everything by being defiant to the gangs when the government comes through and destroys
the sounders on the farm or the gangs force them to sell at prices far, far below what the market would, which, in turn, will bankrupt the farmers.
The farmers have even started trying to jam the frequencies used by the drones. The hope is to prevent the gangs from being able to deliver the
infected pork products to the pens. This won't stop someone from driving by and throwing the offal into the pens, but would make it far more likely
the criminals will be caught. However, the jamming will probably be stopped by the government at some point. The Chinese equivalent of the FCC is
even less friendly than the American one.
It isn't clear how the Chinese can stop the gangs from doing this short of the government going on a major offensive against them. However, drones
are pretty easy to hack and building DIY ones isn't hard, so even if the Chinese government geofences all the farms, the problem will likely
That said, there are two real problems here. The first is, of course, the worry for the Chinese food supply. The second is the potential for the
disease to be encouraged to leap from pigs to people. Influenza has been greatly helped by the traditional tiered approach in China agriculture and
intentionally spreading the disease could make the leap that much more likely. Even more so, should some moron decide to tinker with the swine fever
in order to make the operation even more...efficient.
Time will tell, but the use of drones in a biological campaign is a frightening thing. And this will probably not be the last time this happens