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July 05, 2020

Guarding against African Swine Fever

The deadly African Swine Fever (ASF) has been reported in Naungmon Village in Lashio Township, northern Shan State, in February, 2020.
In August last year, ASF infection was reported in Mongla area of eastern Shan State, prompting neighboring countries China and Thailand to ban pig and pork products from Myanmar.
The ASF outbreak is of particular concern for small-scale farmers, who account for a significant proportion of pig meat production, as they may lack the expertise and funds necessary to protect their herds from the disease in a timely manner.
To curb the spread of the virus, the health authorities must enforce rules to ensure small-scale farmers put measures in place to adequately protect their herds from infection.
Cross-border trade of pigs, some of which may be contaminated, has also contributed to the prevalence of ASF.
African Swine Fever originated in Africa about 30 years ago, but it never spread very over there. Now, it has spread to Asia which has a large livestock market. So, the chances of the virus spreading further are higher. Although African swine fever is not harmful to humans, there is no vaccine for the virus yet. Therefore, we need to be careful.
The biosecurity of pig farms plays a pivotal role in preventing any ASF outbreak. Preventive measures that need to be taken include spraying pig markets with disinfectants, avoiding feeding of leftover feedstuff to domestic pigs, systematic farming, purchasing only pedigree pigs, and carrying out separate farming of newly purchased pigs and existing pigs.
In addition, people must avoid consuming imported frozen pig and pork products such as bacon, ham, and sausage, according to officials. Hunting wild pigs and farming of wild pigs with domestic pigs must be avoided.
The local health authorities should remain on the alert and keep in touch with pig farmers so they can immediately detect any suspicious signs in pig farms.
The symptoms of ASF — red spots on the body, diarrhea, vomiting, and trembling — are similar to those of other diseases common to pigs, which also lead to the deaths of pigs. Therefore, only the results of a laboratory test are reliable.
Educating pig farmers about the virus is paramount. Knowledge of ASF should be within the reach of local pig farmers to ensure that they know what symptoms to look out for and how to effectively deal with an outbreak to prevent the virus from spreading.
Businesses and the general public must be provided up-to-date information on which types of products are prohibited and from which countries.

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