After Mizoram, African swine fever strikes in Meghalaya

Though 573 pigs are suspected to have died, the confirmed cases are 320.

May 14, 2021 03:54 am | Updated 03:54 am IST - GUWAHATI

After Mizoram, African swine fever (ASF) has struck in Meghalaya killing more than 300 pigs.

Principal Secretary of the State’s Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department, G.H.P. Raju said 573 pigs are suspected to have died but the confirmed cases are 320.

“Most of the cases have been reported from the Khasi and Jaintia Hills in the eastern part of Meghalaya while two deaths have been reported in the Garo Hills covering the western party,” he told The Hindu from Shillong, adding that the first case was reported in the third week of April.

About 90 pigs died in a pig-breeding farm run by the Animal Husbandry Department in Nongstoin, headquarters of West Khasi Hills district.

Samples have been sent to a specialised laboratory in Bhopal for confirmatory tests.

“We don’t know how the virus causing ASF struck Meghalaya again after a gap of five months. Between May and November 2020, farmers in the State lost 541 pigs due to ASF,” Mr. Raju said, adding that six places have been declared as containment zones.

About 300 rural families are estimated to have been affected by ASF. Officials said the economic impact has been huge on poor farmers as livestock insurance does not cover the viral disease with 100% mortality.

“The north-eastern States account for 95% of the pork production and consumption in India,” Mr. Raju said.

Veterinary officials have been asked to keep a watch on weekly markets, especially those on the border with Assam, where animals are traded without a health check.

ASF is said to have entered Arunachal Pradesh from Tibet in 2020, spreading to Assam and Meghalaya. The disease killed more than 17,000 pigs in Assam last year.

About 1,200 pigs were killed by the virus — non-lethal for humans — in Mizoram in April-May this year.

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