Swine fever in NE

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 7/18/2020 12:37:21 PM IST

 When it comes to pork, the supply outstrips demand, especially among the people of the north east, having a common penchant for this particular meat. Thus, when African Swine Flu (ASF) broke out in China and Tibet in late 2019 and reached Arunachal Pradesh in December-January 2020, it was not long before the disease surfaced in Assam by April 2020. Assam has the highest pig population of around 20 lakh pigs and is the chief source of supply of pigs in the region. National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal. It was later confirmed that the samples were positive for ASF. Pigs from two districts of Arunachal Pradesh have also tested positive as per the NIHSAD test results. ASF is a severe viral disease that affects wild and domestic pigs typically resulting in an acute haemorrhagic fever. The disease has a case fatality rate (CFR) of about 100 percent. Its routes of transmission include direct contact with an infected or wild pig (alive or dead), indirect contact through ingestion of contaminated material such as food waste, feed or garbage or through biological vectors such as ticks. African Swine Fever (ASF) is a highly contagious haemorrhagic viral disease of domestic and wild pigs, which is responsible for serious economic and production losses. ASF has caused huge losses to pig growers in Assam where, since February 2020, around 15,346 pigs have died in Assam and 2,253 in Arunachal Pradesh. Though ASF is fatal in pigs, yet the virus does not affect people. CSF on the other hand, does not normally infect humans but there have been sporadic human infections with swine flu. When humans are infected with swine flu viruses, the symptoms are similar to human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Following media reports, the government of Nagaland has imposed a ban import of pigs and also warned public about the outbreak in nearby Golaghat district of Assam. However, on July 17, the interception of a pick-up truck carrying 12 pigs from Assam, confirmed that the ban was not strictly imposed or that money may have been paid at the check gate. Eight pigs had died during transportation and later two more died at the veterinary hospital. The cause of death was diagnosed as Classical Swine Flu (CSF). However, the veterinary authorities have sent samples to test for CSF to Kohima and for ASF to Guwahati. It is important that determination of ASF is made through laboratory testing and it is differentiated from Classical Swine Fever (CSF), whose signs may be similar to ASF, but is caused by a different virus for which a vaccine exists. According to reports, pork consumption in Nagaland was approximately 64,624 kg per day. With approximately 13,448 kg per day, Dimapur district topped the chart of pork consumption per day followed by Kohima at 9,500 kg (approx) per day. In the light of the figures that indicate that a huge quantity of pork is consumed everyday in Nagaland and in view of shortage due to lockdown that has pushed prices sky high, authorities must further investigate who the local buyers of the confiscated pigs are since there is possibility that meat of carcases would have been sold. This also raises the need for more stringent enforcement on transportation and sale of all meat and poultry products. 

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