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Swine flu continues to spread

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A quarantine officer examine meat at a slaughterhouse in the Vietnamese southernmost province of Ca Mau which has declared the first outbreak of African swine fever in the province on Thursday. Huynh The Anh/Viet Nam News/Asia News Network

Swine flu continues to spread

African swine fever (ASF) has been reported in 48 out of 63 provinces and cities in Vietnam, affecting about two million pigs or 6.5 per cent of the country’s pig population, the country’s agriculture minister said on Friday.

Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong told the National Assembly that the virus was causing serious damage to the agriculture sector.

On average, agriculture sector generates about 1 quadrillion dong ($42.7 billion) yearly, with pig farming contributing about 90 trillion dong, offering jobs for 2.4 million households, Cuong said.

He said as soon as ASF was reported in China on August 23 last year, Vietnam took preventive measures along the border.

However, the first outbreak of the virus was detected in the northern province of Hung Yen on February 1, he said.

More than 3,000 communes in some 300 districts in 48 provinces and cities nationwide have found the virus in pigs.

“The complicated weather development, small-sized farms and the virus’ characteristics pose a high risk of spreading the virus to other localities and to bigger farms,” Cuong said.

He emphasised the need for communication and prevention and control measures to protect healthy pigs.

The ministry called on farmers to not increase pig numbers at this time due to high disease risk, instead, they should invest in cows, buffaloes and poultry, he said.

Authorities were looking into policies to support affected farmers, producers and traders, he said.

The disease has affected areas up and down the country, from Ha Noi in the north to Kien Giang in the south.

Tightening control

Ho Chi Minh City has tightened control over the transport of livestock and stepped up prevention efforts to prevent the spread of ASF among pigs.

According to Nguyen Phuoc Trung, director of the city’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the city has nearly 4,000 farming households with over 270,000 pigs.

Of these, 247 farming households use leftovers from restaurants and food stores to feed their pigs. This poses a high risk of an ASF outbreak.

All districts must closely monitor farming households who feed their pigs with leftover food, strictly control slaughterhouses with sick pigs, and inspect the origin of pigs, Trung said.

The authorities must inspect pigs being transported to the city, and ensure that inspections will not cause traffic congestion.

Only pork from non-infected areas can enter the city, and quarantine certificates must include the name of the farm and its owner. Vehicles carrying pigs at these places and all slaughterhouses in the city have been disinfected.
Pigs in local farms are also being tested for the disease.

However, many clusters of individual households with pig farms are located near accommodations, making it more difficult to prevent the spread.

Many farmers are still not fully aware of the dangers of ASF and have not applied bio-security measures. And pig culling has not always been carried out safely as staff are not adequately trained and they lack proper equipment and chemicals.

The burial sites are also problematic because much of the land in the south is low lying, allowing water to seep in and spread the disease.

Financial support for affected households has been insufficient, so some families have tried to hide the presence of the disease from local authorities to avoid having their pigs culled. VIET NAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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