Pig tests positive for ASF, says dept

Pig tests positive for ASF, says dept

Pork is available at Simummuang wet market in Lam Luk Ka district of Pathum Thani on Monday. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)
Pork is available at Simummuang wet market in Lam Luk Ka district of Pathum Thani on Monday. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)

The Department of Livestock Development (DLD) has detected one case of African swine fever (ASF) in a slaughterhouse in Nakhon Pathom from blood samples taken early this month but has urged the public not to panic as the disease is not transmissible to humans.

DLD chief Sorawit Thanito said on Tuesday the department was aware of people's concerns about possible outbreaks at domestic pig farms.

"Everything must be done according to academic principles and international standards to obtain well-rounded information before the results are made public,'' Mr Sorawit said.

He said special task force teams were sent to collect 305 blood samples from 10 farms and four surface swab samples from two slaughterhouses in Ratchaburi and Nakhon Pathom provinces over the weekend. The samples were taken to the National Institute of Animal Health's lab for testing.

"Among 309 samples, one from a slaughterhouse in Nakhon Pathom was infected with ASF," Mr Sorawit said.

The DLD has been pressured by the public in recent days to clarify whether the nation is facing an ASF outbreak, and if this has driven up pork prices. After Tuesday's disclosure, the opposition Pheu Thai Party doubled down on its three-year-long accusation that the government has been covering this information up.

Mr Sorawit denied having received a letter from the Thailand Veterinary Dean Consortium in December warning that ASF had been detected in pig blood, but vowed to set up a committee to look into the matter.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has also ordered a probe to find out why these alleged warnings never reached Mr Sorawit or the government.

Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said he was referring to a warning from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Kasetsart University that was allegedly sent to the DLD earlier.

The Thailand Veterinary Dean Consortium sent a similar letter of warning to the DLD, Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew said.

He vowed to hold Gen Prayut, the agriculture and cooperatives minister, and the DLD director-general responsible for the alleged cover-up.

The cabinet has approved 574 million baht to compensate farmers for over 150,000 culled pigs.

The fund, from the central budget, will be disbursed to 4,941 pig farmers in 56 provinces affected by the March 23 to Oct 15 culling.

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