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India reports first case of African swine fever

5th May 2020 / By Alistair Driver

India has reported its first case of African swine fever (AFS), as the virus continues its global spread. 

ASF virus picThe disease has been detected in two north eastern states, Assam, where it has killed around 2,500 pigs across 306 villages in six districts, and Arunachal Pradesh, according to Indian media reports.

The reports the suggest the virus had been present for some time before the disease was confirmed.

The Assam state government decided to send the samples for testing to ICAR Bhopal after pigs failed to recover from symptoms after being vaccinated against classical swine fever (CSF). The veterinary authorities were already on a vaccination drive of pigs against CSF in the region, according to the Telegraph (India).

The results confirmed that all 17 samples from pigs from various locations in Assam were positive for ASF virus genome by real time PCR and nucleotide sequencing analysis. A further 11 out of 62 samples from Arunachal Pradesh were found positive for ASF virus, the Telegraph report added.

The Assam authorities have not yet decided to cull pigs, with this decision to be taken by an expert committee made of Government officials, vets, pig farmers and other stakeholders. Various restrictions, including on the movement of pigs, have been put in place, however.

Quoted in India's Economic Times, Assam Animal Husbandry Minister Atul Bora said: "The National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal, has confirmed that it is African Swine Fever (ASF). The central government has informed us that it is the first instance of the disease in the country."

"We have discussed with experts if we can save the pigs without culling them.The death percentage of the pigs affected by the disease is almost 100 per cent. So we have made some strategies to save the pigs, which are not affected by the virus."

"After testing, we will cull only those pigs which will be found infected. We are avoiding the immediate culling of the pigs. We will have daily updates and take a decision as and when the situation demands."

Continued spread

ASF continues to cause major problems across the world.

The virus has reportedly spread rapidly throughout Papua New Guinea (PNG) after being officially recorded in the Pacific island country for the first time in late-March.

After a few months without any cases, there has been a resurgence of cases in China, with many linked to illegal pig movements – at least a dozen cases have been found at road checkpoints in recent weeks, Reuters reports.

Northern Namibia has been hit by an outbreak that, by late-April, had killed 61 pigs and infected nearly 200 animals across a number of villages.

Closer to home, a second farm in Poland, a finishing unit with 10,000 pigs in Greater Poland, tested positive in April after purchasing pigs from a 23,700-pig breeding farm, in Lubusz, which tested positive in March. All pigs were culled.