Other States

Amid pandemic, 1,300 pigs die of swine fever in Assam

More than 1,300 pigs have died across five districts of eastern Assam of classical swine fever at a time when pig farmers have been hit by the COVID-19 lockdown.

Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Minister Atul Bora said five-member teams of veterinary doctors have been asked to study the causes of the disease that killed 1,374 pigs in less than a week and suggest remedies.

The deaths till Tuesday evening have been reported from Sivasagar, Jorhat, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji and Nagaon districts.

‘Not swine flu’

Dhireshwar Kalita, the principal scientist at the Assam Agriculture University, said the pigs died of classical swine fever and not of swine flu or H1N1 as many in the State had feared.

“Unlike swine flu that attacks humans, classical swine fever is a viral disease that affects pigs only and requires vaccination in time. The outbreak this year has been more severe than normal and would require vaccination camps,” he said.

Dr. Kalita advised affected farmers to either bury the carcasses of the pigs 3-4 feet underground or burn them. There were reports of people throwing dead pigs in rivers and other water bodies that could lead to contamination, he said.

Piggery sector hit

On Tuesday, veterinarians and officials of the Animal Husbandry Department met a delegation of the North East Progressive Pig Farmers’ Association (NEPPFA) at the Assam Livestock and Poultry Corporation Limited in Guwahati for addressing issues related to the piggery sector hit hard due to the lockdown.

NEPPFA president Manoj Kumar Basumatary said Assam has the paraphernalia to produce vaccines for classical swine fever that is common among pigs and can be controlled.

“Lockdown has affected veterinary care a bit, but it is more important for making vaccines readily available since commercial piggery has come up over last few years, adding to some 7 lakh families who rear pigs in Assam,” he told The Hindu on Wednesday.

NPPFA has 500 members who account for a fair share of some 21 lakh pigs in Assam.

Assam has the most farmed pigs in the country according to the 20th livestock census from 2012-2019. Data show that the eight north-eastern States with Assam at its core consume more than 65% of the 4.26 lakh metric tonnes of pork produced in the country.

The pork market in the region is more than $1 billion.

NEPPFA said pork was being sold at government-approved counters for bailing the pig farmers out of a financial crisis due to the lockdown. It also asked the government to make rice and pulses wastage in Food Corporation of India warehouses to be provided to livestock farmers through the public distribution system.

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 6:45:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/amid-pandemic-1300-pigs-die-of-swine-fever-in-assam/article31403558.ece

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