A top veterinarian told The Post on Tuesday that 45 pigs illegally transported into Svay Rieng province from Vietnam did not have African swine fever (ASF) after tests carried out at Phnom Penh’s General Directorate of Animal Health and Production came back negative.
Pen Chanthy, the director of the provincial Production and Veterinary Bureau, said the pigs were seized by border officials on Saturday, before being handed over to the provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
On Monday, tests were carried out at the General Directorate of Animal Health and Production in the capital. Results on Tuesday showed the pigs were not infected.
“Now we are asking for the traders to be fined in accordance with the law. If pigs are infected, we ask for them to be destroyed. If they are healthy, we return the pigs to their owners, but they must agree not to commit a second offence [of buying imported pigs],” he said.
Traders illegally transported the 45 pigs out of Vietnam on two trucks before they were intercepted near the border in Svay Rieng. One truck was stopped in Bavet town’s Chrak M’tes commune and the other in Svay Chrum district’s Bassac commune, Chanthy said.
Local media reports carried pictures of traders walking the pigs out of Vietnam and using the trucks to transport them into Cambodia.
In February, Vietnam became the third Asian country after China and Mongolia to report outbreaks of African swine fever.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries then took steps to prevent the spread of the disease. Officials in all provinces were ordered to collaborate with local authorities to halt the import of all pig products from Vietnam.
The haemorrhagic viral disease was first detected in Cambodia on March 22. It results in a high mortality rate among domestic pigs and can seriously impact the pork industry.
Tan Phannara, the director-general of the General Directorate of Animal Health and Production, told The Post on Tuesday that his department had cracked down on 20 cases of the illegal import of pigs from Vietnam since the first outbreak in Cambodia. Many others had been discovered by provincial police.
“The cases have differed in that some have involved 20 pigs and some 70, while others just involved five or seven,” Phannara said.
He said ASF had only been found in Ratanakkiri province’s O’Yadav and O’Chum districts and had not spread to other areas.
Soy Sona, the director of Ratanakkiri province’s Department of Agriculture, said the first Cambodian outbreak occurred in O’Yadav district before spreading to O’Chum.
Of more than 1,000 infected pigs, some had succumbed to the disease, while others were destroyed. However, there had been no new cases of the disease since Khmer New Year in April, he said.
“It has become quiet, but we are still publicising the problem to remain vigilant in the prevention of further outbreaks of African swine fever,” Sona said.