The Madurai Corporation’s decision to ban the rearing of pigs within city limits has been welcomed by public health officials.
They said that the civic body’s move to relocate pigs to the city outskirts would help prevent the spread of diseases such as Japanese Encephalitis (brain fever).
The ban comes into force on February 16 and at least 4,000 stray pigs will be impounded in various residential areas of Madurai.
B.K.Tyagi, Director, Centre for Research in Medical Entomology (CRME), Madurai, told The Hindu on Friday that the pig was an ‘amplifier animal,’ susceptible to Japanese Encephalitis infection, and it multiplied the spread of disease. “The virus which causes the disease uses the swine as a biological medium and then it spreads to the human population. There are many factors causing or spreading the disease and the pig is one of them.The virus thrives in horses as well,” he explained.
Dr.Tyagi suggested that the Madurai Corporation should look into the disease pattern of Japanese Encephalitis in the city as there are several factors involved in disease transmission dynamics.
The drive to keep pigs off the city has been welcomed by veterinary doctors in the Animal Husbandry Department as well. S. Sankar, Veterinary Assistant Surgeon, Government Veterinary Dispensary at A. Vellalapatti near Alagarkoil, said that pig was the main reservoir of ‘brain fever’ virus and it had to be banned in thickly-populated areas.
“These days we are all worried about H1N1 influenza. The Pig is an agent that spreads the virus from animal to humans. If pigs are located away from the city, it reduces the risk and prevents mortality since Japanese Encephalitis can be deadly if not detected early,” Dr. Sankar said.
Priya Raj, City Health Officer, Madurai Corporation, said that the ban on pig-rearing would address the problem of unhygienic conditions in the city. “Children will harbour diseases if we don’t act now. Parasitic infections must be avoided as far as possible,” she said. Pig-rearers will be watched from Saturday and inspections will be carried out in all 100 wards of the Corporation,” she said.
Deputy Director of Health Services S.Senthilkumar said that it was always better to have animal rearing away from dense human settlements, especially with regard to pigs, so as to avoid acute encephalitis syndrome. “This is a very good move by the Corporation and the efforts should be sustained. Eradication of piggery is not the objective but prevention of diseases is,” he said.