Facebook page fined for spreading false African swine fever info

By Viet Tuan   March 12, 2019 | 05:07 pm PT
Facebook page fined for spreading false African swine fever info
A health official in Da Nang checks a truck transporting pigs from northern to southern Vietnam, to prevent the spread of African swine fever. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Truong
A Vietnamese Facebook page asked people to stop eating pork, falsely asserting that African swine fever could infect humans.

The page of Nguyen Thi Minh Nghia, which is an online shop selling pregnant women fashion, displayed last year’s image of pigs infected with parasitic worms while making its argument.

The information ministry fined Nghia VND20 million ($864) on Monday. She has removed the posts on her page and apologized for publishing the wrong information. 

African swine fever was first detected in the northern province of Hung Yen early last month. Since then, it has spread to over 330 households, 49 villages and 20 districts in 13 Vietnam provinces and cities in northern and north central Vietnam, including the capital city of Hanoi.

The viral disease infects all pig species through bodily fluids such as blood and mucus, causing hemorrhagic fever. There is currently no cure for it, but the disease doesn’t affect humans.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has reaffirmed that the disease exclusively affects pigs, and asked that social media accounts publishing wrong information about the disease be punished.

Twenty countries and territories have reported outbreaks of the disease since 2017 and over one million pigs have been culled, according to the World Organization for Animal Health. Vietnam is the third Asian country hit by the disease, following China and Mongolia.

Some countries and territories are banning pork imports from Vietnam following the numerous African swine fever outbreaks, including Taiwan, Dubai, the U.S. and the U.K. Violators face heavy fines and even imprisonment.

70 percent of meat products in Vietnam are from pigs, with over 10,000 farms and 2.5 million households raising the animal for food.

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