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ASF spread ‘being monitored’

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Prey Veng provincial authorities spray disinfectant to prevent African swine fever. Photo supplied

ASF spread ‘being monitored’

A government animal health official is monitoring the possible spread of African swine fever into new provinces bordering Vietnam. This follows an outbreak in Ratanakkiri in March, which was hoped had been kept under control.

Ri Davin, the head of the Tbong Khmum provincial Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health and Production Office, told The Post on Wednesday that he hadn’t received formal confirmation that the disease had been detected in the province.

But he was made aware of a potential issue by email from General Directorate of Animal Health and Production director-general Tan Phannara, who suggested that other provinces may be affected.

“We saw Phannara come here about 10 days ago. He took blood tests in O’Reang-ou district, but the formal results have not been released."

“He sent an email saying he would update us later. So I am not sure whether African swine fever had broken out in my province."

“It already appeared in Ratanakkiri province, and his email suggested it might have been detected in one of the other border provinces – such as Tbong Khmum, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng and Takeo – but he is yet to clarify which province, ” Davin said.

However, he said Phannara had earlier in the month investigated reports of a few families whose pigs had died and said it was later heard that the pigs had been bought from O’Reang-ou district to Kampong Cham.

“For some time, we have held monthly district meetings, but no one reported any issues so we always informed the senior leadership that there is no problem,” he said.

The Post was unable to reach Phannara for comment on Thursday.

The first outbreak of African swine fever took hold on March 22 in O’Yadav district in Ratanakkiri province.

In April, the disease was detected in Ratanakkiri province’s O’Chum district, but a provincial official said there had been no further outbreaks since some 1,300 pigs were culled.

Ratanakkiri provincial Department of Agriculture director Soy Sona said on Thursday that officials had strictly forbidden bringing pigs into or out of O’Yadav or O’Chum districts or from Ratanakkiri to other provinces.

“We have banned them from importing and exporting pigs,” he said.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon issued a directive urging all departments to work with sub-national authorities at all levels to enforce a ban on the importing of pigs over the Vietnamese border.

It said that if any department failed to implement the directive, it will be held accountable by the ministry and subject to legal action.

However, Phannara recently said that pigs had still been secretly imported from Vietnam, especially into Tbong Khmum province.

Davin said that since the ministry’s ban, some 30 such cases had been busted in Tbong Khmum province involving nearly 700 pigs, but blood tests showed that none were infected with the African swine fever virus.

To prevent the disease spreading, the Prey Veng provincial Agriculture Department has sprayed some two tonnes of disinfectant since the beginning of May.

Department director Uk Samnang said on Wednesday that his team had sprayed the disinfectant at 1,086 pig farms, 110 slaughterhouses and in other locations involved with the transport of pigs.

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