African swine fever spreads to Meghalaya

The third northeastern State to report disease that affects pigs after Arunachal Pradesh and Assam

Published - August 13, 2020 05:21 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Pigs stand in a barn at a pig farm. Photo used for representation purpose only.

Pigs stand in a barn at a pig farm. Photo used for representation purpose only.

African swine fever (ASF) has spread to Meghalaya; more than 17,000 pigs have died due to the highly-contagious disease in adjoining Assam .

Preliminary screening of tissue samples of pigs in Meghalaya at a laboratory in Guwahati confirmed the cause of death as ASF. The samples have also been sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal for analysis.

Also read: Pig farms in State on alert against African swine fever

“We had received nine samples of pigs that died in three districts of Meghalaya. These samples tested positive for ASF in our laboratory but we dispatched them to the Bhopal Institute on Tuesday for further confirmation,” said Pradip Gogoi, Deputy Director in-charge of the Animal Health Centre at the North-Eastern Regional Disease Diagnostics Laboratory.

“The samples were received from East Khasi Hills, West Jaintia Hills and Ri-Bhoi districts of Meghalaya on August 9,” Mr. Gogoi told The Hindu .

Also read: African swine fever: Assam told to go for culling

People of Lamin village in Meghalaya’s West Jaintia Hills had reported the sudden death of 15 pigs in the first week of August. More such deaths were reported later from the other two districts.

February outbreak

Since February this year, ASF has killed at least 17,000 domesticated pigs in Assam and an unspecified number in Arunachal Pradesh. The disease is believed to have been transmitted from China where it has resulted in the death of several animals in 2019.

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, ASF is an extremely contagious viral disease affecting wild and domestic pigs. It swiftly crosses national borders, spreading through live or dead bodies, even through packaged pork products.

Piggery is a major source livelihood in the northeast because of the high demand for pork. Assam alone has seven lakh pig farmers engaged in the business, worth at least ₹8,000 crore annually.

However, the sale of pork has been restricted in many parts of the northeast since the ASF outbreak. Nagaland, for instance, has banned the import of live pigs or pork products from other States.

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