Livestock officials on guard against African swine fever

Livestock officials on guard against African swine fever

Livestock officials hope to prevent the spread of African swine fever to Thailand, amid concern over the emergence of the damaging virus in China.(Post Today photo)
Livestock officials hope to prevent the spread of African swine fever to Thailand, amid concern over the emergence of the damaging virus in China.(Post Today photo)

Livestock officials stationed at borders and airports have been put on high alert against pig smuggling amid growing concern over an epidemic of African swine flu in China.

Livestock Development Department director-general Sorawis Thaneto on Friday ordered quarantine stations to keep a sharp eye out for smugglers of pig carcasses and live pigs, because they could be infected.

All seized pigs must be immediately destroyed, he said.

The department has formed a panel comprising officials, academics, farmers and swine industry representatives to map out measures to prevent the deadly pig virus.

The disease is endemic to Africa and was first detected in China last month, in northeastern Liaoning province bordering North Korea and the Yellow Sea. It then spread to five more provinces in China, with more than 24,000 pigs culled in an effort to halt its spread.

It sparked a call for Hong Kong to kill pigs imported from China to prevent the disease taking a hold there.

There is no vaccine against AFS, but the virus poses no health threat to humans.

In Thailand, the department ordered a temporary ban on imports of pigs and their carcasses from China soon after the virus appeared there, to prevent it damaging swine raising and related industries.

Thailand had 13.5 million pigs in commercial farms, about 25% of them in Ratchaburi and Nakhon Pathom, in 2015, according to the latest figures from the Agricultural Economics Office.

The Food Agriculture Organisation, fretting about the spread of swine fever to Asia, held a three-day emergency meeting in Bangkok this week.

The UN food agency on Friday issued an ASF warning for countries in Asia. Pork is especially popular with East and Southeast Asian consumers.

"Unfortunately, what we're seeing so far is just the tip of the iceberg," Juan Lubroth, FAO chief veterinary officer said in statement issued after the meeting ended.

He said the virus was spread through processed or raw pork products, more than by live animals.

"The virus is very robust and can survive for weeks or months when it is in cured or salted pork, or when it is used in animal feed or swill,'' he said in the FAO statement.



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