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African swine fever kills 2900 pigs in Assam

The outbreak of African swine fever (AFS) amid the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed more than 2,900 domestic pigs, although veterinary officials said the rate of death has decreased over the last 48 hours.

Officials said they have not yet been able to crack the AFS “mystery.” The disease first detected in Kenya in 1921 had never been reported in India before. Data provided by the State’s Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department said 2,904 pigs had died till 5 pm on Tuesday. The deaths were reported from 310 villages across six eastern Assam districts.

On Monday, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal asked Veterinary and Forest departments to work with the National Pig Research Centre of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research for saving the State’s pig population.

According to a 2019 census, the State has 21 lakh domestic pigs and more than 7 lakh farmers are involved in rearing them for the pork business worth at least ₹8,000 crore annually in the northeast.

“The Chief Minister asked doctors and other functionaries to ensure cleanliness and total sanitisation of the pig habitable areas and use disinfectants,” a statement from the Chief Minister’s Office said.

Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Minister Atul Bora said combating AFS was proving to be a challenge, since no vaccine or medicine has been discovered so far. “The AFS mortality rate is almost 100%. The focus is on preventing the disease from spreading and we have worked out some plans in consultation with officials, veterinary experts and pig farmers,” he said.

The government, he said, was weighing options other than culling as advised by the Centre. The plan includes creating containment zones within a kilometre radius of infected areas and surveillance zones within a 10 km radius.

The Minister said the virus that causes AFS has not been found to infect humans, but they can be carriers, passing it on to uninfected pigs.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 1:07:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/assam-swine-fever-death-toll-rises/article31513480.ece

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