Vietnam culls 2 million pigs as African swine fever threatens large-scale farms

By Anh Minh, Hoang Thuy, Vo Hai   May 30, 2019 | 10:54 pm PT
Vietnam culls 2 million pigs as African swine fever threatens large-scale farms
African swine fever has prompted Vietnam to cull two million pigs in several months. Photo by Shutterstock/Dusan Petkovic
Vietnam has culled two million pigs infected with African swine fever as the virus continues to spread, the agriculture minister said.

The disease, which entered Vietnam in early February, has infected 48 out of 63 cities and provinces in Vietnam, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said at a meeting with the legislative National Assembly on Friday.

"This is a major issue, never before seen in the world’s farming industry," Cuong said. 

Without proper procedures to contain the disease, coupled with complicated weather patterns, the disease may spread to new areas, re-infect former areas or even attack large-scale farms, he said.

Preventative measures are currently the only option to contain the disease, he said. The health ministry is already researching to find a vaccine for the virus, which is shed in blood, saliva, tears, nasal secretions, urine, faeces, and secretions from the animal's genital tract.

The Ministry of Trade and relevant authorities are looking at frozen pork supplies as a fail-safe plan for a possible pork shortage. The agriculture ministry warned people not to continue raising pigs, and to raise other animal groups like buffalos, cows, poultry or seafood instead.

Vietnam has the world’s seventh largest pig herd and is the sixth largest pork producer, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade. 

The pig herd is valued at VND90 trillion ($3.8 million), accounting for 10 percent of the country’s total agricultural value. It also provides jobs for 2.4 million households and 10,000 farms in the country, said Cuong.

Pork makes up 70 percent of the average Vietnamese diet.

The incurable African swine fever is now present in all regions across Vietnam, starting with the north and then spreading south. Dong Nai Province, the country's largest pig-farming province which neighbors Saigon, is among the infected.

Vietnam said earlier this month it is considering mobilizing its military and police forces to help combat the outbreak.

Latest figures from the World Organization for Animal Health, counted until May 30, showed that 11 countries and territories have notified new or ongoing outbreaks: Belgium, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia and Ukraine in Europe; Mainland China, Hong Kong and Vietnam in Asia, and South Africa.

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