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Swine fever outbreak prompts call for vigilance

The Mercury

9 Sep 2019

NICOLA DANIELS nicola.daniels@inl.co.za

African News Agency (ANA) THE Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Daff) has sounded the alarm after 17 outbreaks of African swine fever were reported outside the virus-controlled area since the beginning of April.

Outbreaks were reported in North West, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Free State, and the department has advised farmers to exercise caution in the purchase and maintenance of pigs.

“The main indication of the disease is that large numbers of pigs were found dead,” said Daff spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo.

“Symptoms could include that they may stop eating, are listless and show breathing difficulties; display redness on the skin, especially the ears and abdomen, and may even have bleeding from the nose and rectum,” he added.

Biosecurity is the only way to prevent ASF affecting pigs, according to the department.

It advised farmers to only buy pigs from confirmed healthy herds.

“Auctions are a mixture of multiple pigs of unknown origin and therefore of a high risk – avoid visiting and buying from auctions.

“Confine pigs so that they cannot come into contact with other pigs and possible infected material (kitchen waste and carcases),” Ngcobo said.

The department also advised owners to avoid feeding pigs swill (leftovers or kitchen waste).

If this is not possible, ensure that the food is cooked thoroughly to inactivate the virus as it can remain infectious for months.

The added benefit to this is the destruction of other diseases through cooking, including measles, foot-and mouth disease, pseudorabies, etc.

“Avoid allowing people/vehicles/ equipment on to your farm as they may have been in contact with other pigs or infectious material.

“Be vigilant and report any pig deaths to the nearest state veterinary office.

“The current outbreak does not pose any threat to human health, and the consumption of pork and pork products is safe,” said Ngcobo.

Meanwhile, the highly contagious virus has reportedly spread to every province in China, which is the world’s biggest pork producer.

In the past year, it has lost about 100 million pigs to the disease.