Travelers to Japan, or residents returning to Japan from trips abroad, are warned that they should not bring overseas food products into the country. Those warnings usually fall on deaf ears: How dangerous can sausage or fruit be?

Very, as is now evident from the appearance of the African swine flu (ASF) virus in Japan. Scientists have traced the living ASF virus to undercooked pork sausage products brought into the country from China. This is the first time that ASF virus has been found in a contagious state in Japan, though no ASF outbreak has been confirmed. The Japanese government must step up measures to prevent illegal meat products from entering the country. That effort will only succeed if Japanese citizens take the warnings seriously. Tokyo must also work with Asian governments to fight outbreaks throughout the region.

Found throughout Africa, ASF was first discovered in the nation of Georgia in 2007 and then spread to Russia. It is thought that ASF entered China through imported pork products. It was first reported in northeast China in August 2018. As is often the case with a disease that is highly contagious, it quickly spread throughout the country and, ignoring borders, has now been found in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia, Hong Kong and possibly North Korea. Experts believe an outbreak in Myanmar is only a matter of time.