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Mass infection in pigs sparks fears

An official sprays a vehicle’s transport trailer with disinfectant yesterday in Siem Reap province after a breakout of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome killed more than 1,200 pigs.
An official sprays a vehicle’s transport trailer with disinfectant yesterday in Siem Reap province after a breakout of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome killed more than 1,200 pigs. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Mass infection in pigs sparks fears

A new breakout of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) has taken the lives of more than 1,200 pigs while infecting some 3,200 more in three districts across Siem Reap since mid-August, a new report by the province’s Agriculture Department says.

Officials, meanwhile, are attempting to stem the spread of the disease by disinfecting pig farms and transportation vehicles.

Prum Vich, an animal health and production chief at the Agriculture Department, said that the outbreak started on August 14.

Since then the disease has killed 1,204 pigs and infected 3,241 more. Two districts in Siem Reap – Sotr Nikum and Chi Kraeng – have borne the brunt of the outbreak, though the disease, also known as “blue ear disease,” has also spread to Prasat Bakong district.

“This happened in Cambodia in 2009, but for more than five years we had not had an outbreak,” he said yesterday.

He added that while the disease is unlike bird flu or H1N1 in that it doesn’t directly infect humans, tainted meat may cause health problems down the line and therefore must be disposed of.

“It affects human health if we eat the disease-ridden meat,” Vich said. “That’s why we told farmers whose pigs have died to bury them and not sell [the meat] at the market.”

In Sotr Nikum district, seven communes have seen the disease spread, with 418 pigs dead and 936 falling ill. In Chi Kraeng district, the outbreak has reached 12 communes, killing 583 pigs and causing 1,725 swine to become sick.

Last weekend, six communes in Prasat Bankong saw 203 pigs dead and 580 sick due to blue ear disease.

Vich said that officials have taken 23 samples to send to the National Laboratory for analysis.

He added that the disease usually arises from a lack of hygiene on farms or in transportation vehicles.

“We do not have a vaccine, but we are spraying [disinfectant chemicals] to kill the virus on farms and transport [vehicles],” Vich said.

Tan Phanara, a director at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Animal Health and Production Department, is set to lead a group of officials to Siem Reap today to supply disinfectant and educate farmers and transporters about the disease.

Deun Nouen, a pig farmer in Siem Reap, said four of his swine died last week from the disease.

“I’ve lost nearly $3,000 after my pigs died from the blue ear disease,” he said.

Chan Van, a transporter from Siem Reap, said that the disease has caused business to slow down.

“Business has been down recently because some of the buyers are afraid of eating pork.”

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