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ASF spreads across 10 districts

 Staff Reporter Aizawl, June 28:

African swine fever (ASF) has now spread across 10 of Mizoram’s 11 districts, killing almost 7,600 pigs as one June 25, 2021, according to the state’s animal husbandry and veterinary department.

 

Around 550 more deaths due to the virus are suspected but not yet confirmed, said officials of the department.

 

There was more bad news June 25 as several pigs died in the only district that was untouched by the virus so far. ASF, which has up to 100 per cent fatality rate according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), is suspect to be behind these deaths too. ASF hit Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Manipur last year. Mizoram remained safe thanks to the ban on import of pigs and pork from other states and neighbouring countries (Mizoram shares borders with Myanmar in the east and Bangladesh on the west) as well as stringent entry rules put in place because of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

 

However, the livestock disease slipped into the northeastern state during the early months of this year when COVID-19 protocols were relaxed, authorities said.

 

The first pig deaths due to an unknown disease were reported from Lungsen village in Lunglei district at the end of March, according to the animal husbandry department. The deaths were due to ASF, National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal confirmed mid-April.

 

A special diseases investigation team visited Lungsen village during April 5- 8 and interviewed affected pig farmers, Dr Lalhmingthanga, joint-director (livestock health) said in a recent webinar. He added:

 

The team found that pigs are illegally imported from Bangladesh through villages like Tipperaghat and Khojoysury located near the border. Illegal pig traders use Lungsen village as a stock point for keeping the animals before moving them to Lunglei market. Imported pigs were most often kept in close proximity with the local pig population.

 

“The president of Rolui village council informed that the outbreak of an unknown disease killed several pigs in Bangladesh villages along the India border in February, 2021,” he added.

 

The disease, later confirmed to be ASF, soon spread to other Mizoram districts. The outbreaks in the state’s northern and eastern areas may have been independent of Lungsen, officials said.

 

An outbreak that killed nearly 250 pigs at Zokhawthar, the main trade post between Mizoram and Myanmar, was likely caused by imports from that country. Fortunately, it was quickly controlled and Champhai district, in which Zokhawthar is located, has not seen any serious spread.

 

The outbreak in northern Mizoram, especially Aizawl district, is suspected to have been caused by pork imports from Meghalaya or animal feed. Samples are being drawn for testing, said Dr M Zohmingthangi, deputy director, disease investigation and epidemiology.

 

The contagion has worried authorities especially since it also invaded isolated commercial farms, mostly around Aizawl city. “Individual farms lost hundreds of pigs in a matter of weeks.”

 

Voluntary culling, either by farm owners or with help from officials, has been conducted in some areas, officials shared. The state will urge the Union government to give compensation for the culled animals, animal husbandry minister Dr K Beichhua said.

 

(Source: Newslink Vol-XXIII No. 135 Aizawl June 29, Tuesday 2021)