While African swine fever, a virus that affects pigs has broken out in China and seems to be spreading across the region, the Cambodia Livestock Raisers Association has urged the Ministry of Agriculture to monitor all animals imported from neighbouring countries.
The association’s director Srun Poav said China had already culled 38,000 infected pigs and the virus remains a concern for local smallholders and companies alike.
He said swine fever could easily spread to the Kingdom from Vietnam, which shares a border with that country.
“It is a major concern for our farmers. They are already suffering from lower pig supplies, and if this disease spreads to our country, the industry could collapse. The virus could kill all the pigs in the country within a week of its introduction in Cambodia,” he said.
The government officially allows 1,250 head of pigs to be imported from Vietnam each day. Poav claimed, however, that the actual number is often more than 2,000 per day.
According to reports, African swine fever has been detected in Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, Finland, Romania, South Africa, Ukraine and Zambia.
China is the world’s largest pork producer and consumer. The first case of swine fever was reported in August in northeastern Liaoning province. The disease has since spread south prompting massive culls.
African swine fever does not affect humans but causes hemorrhagic fever in pigs and wild boars and is nearly always fatal. There is no antidote or vaccine, and the only known preventive measure is to cull infected livestock.
A three-day meeting was held earlier this week in Thailand by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Specialists on animal disease and agriculture policy makers from nine countries in Asia – Cambodia, Japan, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam – met to discuss and coordinate an action plan to prevent the spread of swine fever.
Cambodian officials have maintained that the virus has yet to show up in the country.
Sen Sovann, the director of the general department of animal health and animal production at the Ministry of Agriculture, who joined the meeting in Thailand, told The Post on Thursday that African swine fever hasn’t hit either Thailand or Vietnam yet, and is being heavily monitored.
“We are now cooperating very closely with Thai and Vietnamese authorities to follow up and strictly monitor all imported products to their country."
“We will organise a workshop with our pig producers to help them understand about this virus and protect them. When it hits a pig farm, 100 per cent of infected pigs will die. It is a big concern for the whole industry,” he said.