Only three Vietnam provinces free of African swine fever

By Phan Anh, Dac ThanhJune 24, 2019 | 08:47 pm PT
Only three Vietnam provinces free of African swine fever
The Central Highlands’ Lam Dong Province is the latest in Vietnam to be infected with African swine fever, leaving only three provinces left uninfected with the disease. Photo by Shutterstock/Julia Lototskaya.
Lam Dong Province in the Central Highlands is the latest to report outbreaks of African swine fever, which leaves only three provinces unaffected.

Two outbreaks were discovered in the province as of Monday, with 900 pigs infected, the Animal Health Department said. Both farms are in Duc Trong District, an hour’s drive from the popular resort town Da Lat.

Authorities have culled the infected pigs and sanitized the farms to contain the disease’s spread.

As of Monday 60 out of Vietnam’s 63 cities and provinces had seen outbreaks, with only Ninh Thuan in the south-central region, Tay Ninh near Ho Chi Minh City and Ben Tre in the Mekong Delta being spared.

Over 2.2 million pigs have been culled, causing losses of VND3.6 trillion ($154.77 million).

Vietnam has the seventh largest number of pigs in the world, 30 million, and is the sixth largest pork producer. Pig farming provides a livelihood to 2.4 million households, while pork makes up 70 percent of the average Vietnamese diet, according to official figures.

To combat the disease’s impact on the country’s pork supply and ward off a possible shortage, the Ministry of Industry and Trade is looking at frozen pork supplies. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has warned people not to expand their pig herds and advised them to switch to other animals like buffalos, cows and poultry or aquaculture.

The government has also ordered severe punishment for anyone found compromising efforts to prevent the disease.

On Monday animal health officials in the central province of Quang Nam fined a truck driver VND8 million ($344) for selling infected pigs on the street last month after transporting them from Bac Ninh Province in the north.

Pham Minh Vy, the driver, said he had been hired to transport 150 pigs to a slaughterhouse in Quang Nam, but after he could not reach the slaughterhouse on the phone, he sold them himself. He had sold 101 of them before the authorities stepped in.

African swine fever first appeared in early February and quickly spread across the northern and central regions before reaching the south in early May.

The virus is shed in blood, saliva, tears, nasal secretions, urine, feces, and secretions from the animal's genital tract. Pigs can thus get the infection by contact with many different infected sources, mainly other infected pigs, pork and other pig-derived products but also any other contaminated object, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.

While the disease is incurable, it does not affect humans.

Latest data from the World Organization for Animal Health shows 14 countries and territories are suffering from new or ongoing outbreaks of the disease: Belgium, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, mainland China, Hong Kong, Laos, North Korea, Vietnam, and South Africa.

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