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Tens of thousands of pigs dying from African swine fever in Indonesia

African Swine Fever Alert

African swine fever is seeing a resurgence in Indonesia’s southern East Nusa Tenggara province, government officials say, undermining food security and fueling fears that the viral disease could jump to other species.

The disease has done the most damage in China, where tens of millions of pigs have either died from it or been culled since 2018. But it is increasingly wreaking havoc in Southeast Asia after jumping to the region from its northern neighbor.

Since July 2020, tens, or perhaps hundreds, of thousands of pigs in East Nusa Tenggara are said to have died from ASF. The disease seemed to have disappeared from the region in late 2020, before returning in 2021.

Flores, famous for its Komodo dragons, is one of the islands that has been hard hit. Simon Nani, the head of the livestock department in East Flores district, said in mid-March that ASF had killed 35,000 pigs there, up to 40% of the population. His counterpart in nearby Nagekeo district, Klementina Dawo, said her office had recorded 6,048 deaths from the disease. Albert Moang, from the agricultural office in Sikka, another Flores district, said 11,919 pigs there had died since February 2020.

Atong Gomez, a pig farmer in Sikka, said that when the virus began to spread, he sold nearly half of his pigs at a low price. “I panicked,” he told Mongabay, adding, “I cleaned their pen twice a day, sprayed disinfectant and fumigated the pen so that flies” — thought to be one vector of the disease — “wouldn’t come.”

Carolus Winfridus Keupung, the director of Wahana Tani Mandiri, a local nonprofit that works with farmers and fishers, said he believes the death toll is far higher because many pig farmers weren’t reporting the deaths of their animals to authorities. The government, he added, needed to more to prevent the virus from spreading further.

“There must be real action to restrict trade,” he said. “Pigs are dying everywhere, and the community is suffering great losses … If a pig costs 3 million rupiah [$207], tens of billions of rupiah of income are being lost. The government is talking about the Food Estate” — a central government plan to establish large-scale plantations in several provinces — “but people’s food security has been destroyed.”

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Millions of pigs dead due to African Swine Fever in China

A second wave of African swine fever (ASF) is estimated to have killed as many as eight million pigs in China since the start of the year, derailing the country’s plans to rebuild its national herd.

The first reported outbreak of the disease was in August 2018 and within a year it had spread to multiple countries and killed an estimated 25 per cent quarter of the world’s pig population.

Independent meat analyst Simon Quilty said the ASF variants that swept through China in the past two months had significant implications for the global protein market.

“China has just come out in recent days claiming that by the middle of this year they will be back to 100 per cent recovery [from African swine fever], which is simply impossible,” he told ABC Rural.

“Because in the last six to eight weeks, this second wave – due to some new strains of the virus – has killed somewhere between seven and eight million sows.”

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3,000 pigs killed due to swine fever in Hong Kong

Hong Kong authorities ordered the culling of all 3,000 pigs in a herd after the African swine fever (ASF) virus was discovered to be spreading for the first time in one of the city’s farms.

The disease, which is harmless to humans, is very rare in Hong Kong. The last outbreak in 2019 was due to pigs that were imported from the mainland and resulted in the culling of 10,000 pigs.

The new outbreak was discovered on a farm in the rural Yuen Long area, in the north near the mainland China border.

African swine fever is endemic on the mainland, where it devastated farms in 2018 and 2019, and has caused significant damage again this winter.

Hong Kong’s Agriculture and Fisheries Department, which is overseeing an investigation of the outbreak, said that the virus was limited to the one farm and that the owner would be compensated.

Hong Kong has about 43 pig farms, accounting for 15% of its live pig supplies, according to a Feb. 5 report by the United States Department of Agriculture.

“Members of the public do not need to be concerned,” the Agriculture and Fisheries Department said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that the overall supply of live pigs from other sources could make up the supply.

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Nearly 1 million pigs killed due to African Swine Fever in Nigeria #AfricanSwineFever #Pigs #Nigeria

African Swine Fever Alert

Hundreds of thousands of pigs have been culled by Nigerian farmers in response to an explosion of African swine fever (ASF). The outbreak began around Lagos and parts of neighbouring Ogun state earlier this year, pig farmers say, but has now spread to many other parts of the country.

In the absence of official data, farmers who spoke to the Guardian estimated that nearly a million pigs had been put down so far. Mrs Bello, a farmer at Lagos-based Oke-Aro, the largest pig co-operative in west Africa, who preferred not to give her first name, said the co-operative alone had culled around 500,000 pigs. So far the virus has spread to more than a quarter of Nigeria’s 36 states.

In the past decade, ASF has regularly surfaced in several parts of Africa. Between 2016 and 2019, more than 60­ outbreaks were reported across the continent.

But the recent wave of infections is the worst by far. “We have never experienced anything of this scale in the past. This is the worst and largest outbreak ever,” says Ayo Omirin, a pig farmer at Oke-Aro, who has lost more than 600 of his 800 pigs.

Another farmer, Lawrence Adeleke, who had been in the pig business for decades, recently died. The outbreak struck his farm in April, his son Adeleke Adedayo told the Guardian. Within two months, nearly all of the 100 or so pigs had died and the pens were shut down. In 2007, when a similar outbreak hit the farm, only three of nearly 100 pigs survived.

“When he returned from the farm the day we lost the last set of pigs, he stopped talking to anybody for three days. He was always absent-minded and withdrawn,” said Adedayo. “He only spoke about the losses in the farm. He talked about all his labours for many years vanishing in a few days. He felt he was too old to start all over again. We all felt helpless. On the morning of 2 June, his birthday, he died.”

The farmers who spoke to the Guardian estimated that the pig industry in the country has lost up to 20bn naira (£40m), and that more than 20,000 jobs are at risk. The outbreak comes at the same time as coronavirus, which has infected 17,148 people and led to 455 deaths, according to figures released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

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African Swine Fever kills thousands of pigs in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, India #AfricanSwineFever #Assam #ArunachalPradesh #India

African Swine Fever Alert

Bidarva Rajkhowa, a pig breeder, is a worried man these days. Despite his best efforts, he couldn’t keep the dreaded African Swine Fever (ASF) away from his Rajkhowa Pig Breeding Farm in Lakhimpur district of Assam, which he had set up in 2008.

On May 13, the disease reached his farm. Initially, two sows and two piglets died from the disease on his farm. Subsequently, the disease spread to such an extent that Rajkhowa had to take the tough decision of culling 32 of his animals to contain the spread to nearby farms. His farm is said to be the first commercial pig farm in Lakhimpur district to be affected by the disease.

Speaking to Mongabay-India, Rajkhowa said: “Since news started coming out about pigs dying from ASF in Assam, I took all the possible measures to increase bio-security and maintain hygiene in my farm. Despite that, the disease has entered my farm. We have buried the carcasses of the pigs that have died, as per protocol, and we are also disinfecting the place regularly. But still, more and more pigs have started showing symptoms of the disease. They have stopped eating.”

“I have got 305 pigs on my farm. I have isolated the animals showing symptoms but if the virus reaches the rest of them, I will be ruined,” rued Rajkhowa, adding he imported pigs from Nepal and he is now facing a loss of Rs. 52 lakh.

Lakhimpur is one of the 10 districts in Assam that have been affected by ASF.

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the infections in domestic pigs in northeast India (Assam and Arunachal Pradesh) are the first occurrences of the disease in the country.

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Millions of pigs killed due to African Swine Fever in Various Countries #AfricanSwineFever

African Swine Fever Alert

The African swine fever (ASF) pandemic will be even worse this year than in 2019, say experts, warning that the spread of the highly contagious virus, which is fatal to pigs, is unrelenting.

With world attention on the human viral pandemic of Covid-19, concern is growing that countries are not focusing enough on halting the spread of ASF through better biosecurity practices, cooperation on intensive vaccine development, or transparency regarding outbreaks.

“The ASF virus is a much ‘stronger’ virus [than Covid-19], in that it can survive in the environment or processed meat for weeks and months,” Dirk Pfeiffer, a professor of veterinary sciences at City University in Hong Kong and a leading expert on ASF, told the Guardian.

ASF kills almost 100% of the animals it infects, and despite being in circulation for nearly 100 years, there is still no vaccine.

ASF had been a problem for many years, but when it reached China in autumn 2018 the disease exploded and the following year saw huge numbers of deaths. The official count was of around 1.1 million pigs culled in the year after that according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Unofficially, however, China’s numbers were probably closer to 200 million or more pigs culled, slaughtered early or lost to the disease in the first year of the outbreak. Last July the Dutch bank Rabobank estimated that at least 40% of the country’s 360 million pig population could have been lost.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the UN agency based in Paris which monitors all notifiable animal diseases, told the Guardian it considered this “a reasonable estimate”.

Data from OIE for this year shows that global ASF numbers by the end of April are close to or already above levels for all of 2019. Currently, focal locations of the virus are primarily in China, Vietnam, the Philippines and a wide swath of Eastern Europe.

“The continuing new ASF outbreaks – which are reported through official OIE notifications, as well as picked up informally through media, and tracked through our emergency prevention system – confirm the ever-larger number of affected animals and the unrelenting spread of the disease,” Andriy Rozstalnyy, an animal health officer at the FAO told the Guardian.

Deaths from sickness total more than 100,000, nearly the same as 2019, and the number officially culled stands at 5.4 million compared to the 6.9 million figure from 2019.

The disease has now spread to northern India for the first time, as well as to Papua New Guinea. Recent outbreaks among wild boar populations in Belgium, now under control, have also heightened monitoring in western Europe.

“I think we can call it a pandemic, definitely,” said Timothée Vergne, an associate professor of veterinary public health at the National Veterinary School of Toulouse, France.

“I was expecting to see a significant decrease in the number of reports of ASF outbreaks [due to the Covid-19 crisis], but actually I was kind of amazed to see that it still goes on,” he said.

Overall numbers of reported outbreaks are “far above” what had been reported by the end of May last year, said Vergne, adding that he believes the overall numbers will eclipse 2019 by the end of the year.

There are also concerns that China is underreporting the data for 2020. “We see ASF every week here,” Wayne Johnson, veterinarian at farm services company Enable Agricultural Technology Consulting, who is based in Beijing. “Provinces are told not to report. China does not report anything that would give [an] accurate account.”

Pfeiffer, who had sounded warnings along with Vergne and other researchers in a 2017 paper from Veterinary Record about the potential global impacts of ASF getting into China’s pig population,said China has now gone from culling, to controlling and living with it. “The benefit that the ASF epidemic has had for the financial performance of the mega pig producers in China adds another interesting dimension to the story. They have actually learned to ‘live’ with the disease in the country, and benefit enormously from the high pork price.”

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23,700+ pigs killed due to swine fever in Western Poland #SwineFever #Pigs #Poland

African Swine Fever Alert

For the first time, African Swine Fever has also hopped onto a large domestic pig farm in Western Poland, affecting over 23,700 pigs. It is the largest affected pig farm since Poland has started reporting ASF outbreaks in 2014.

The outbreak was discovered on March 18 and the confirmation was given on Saturday, March 21, according to the German agricultural title Top Agrar. The report has already been filed in the European Animal Disease Notification System (ADNS) and has also been confirmed by the Polish Central Veterinary Inspectorate.

The breeding farm is located near the village of Niedoradz, Lubusz province, at 66km as the crow flies from the border with Germany. The farm had 23,746 animals on-site, of which 6,904 sows, 16,037 pre-weaning piglets, 776 weaner pigs and 29 boars. Roughly 135 pigs had died of the virus, according to Top Agrar. Obviously, the authorities moved to cull the entire farm’s pig population and protection zones have been created around the farm.

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3,000 pigs dead due to swine fever in Indonesia #Pigs #SwineFever #Indonesia

African Swine Fever Alert

Indonesia is tightening curbs on the transport of pigs and pork products after nearly 3,000 animals died in a new outbreak of African swine fever in an eastern province bordering East Timor, the agriculture ministry said on Friday (Feb 28).

In a statement, the ministry said 2,825 pigs had died by Thursday in five areas of East Nusa Tenggara. The curbs will also be enforced along the border with East Timor, where cases had been reported since late in September.

“I have asked officers and quarantine authorities to tighten transport of live animals and products from East Timor,” I Ketut Diarmita, the ministry’s director-general for livestock and animal health, said in the statement.

The ministry has sent teams to determine the source of the infection, carry out disinfection and stiffen biosecurity measures, he added, urging farmers not to sell sick animals and to dispose of pig carcasses properly.

The province has a pig population of about 2.1 million, government data shows. The latest outbreak comes after the disease emerged in the western province of North Sumatra to kill more than 47,000 pigs by Monday.

On the tourist resort island of Bali, more than 1,700 pigs have also died of suspected swine fever.

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Hundreds of pigs dead due to swine fever in Bali, Indonesia #SwineFever #pigs #Indonesia

African Swine Fever Alert

Hundreds of pigs have died from African swine fever in Bali, authorities said Wednesday, marking the Indonesian holiday island’s first recorded outbreak and after the virus claimed some 30,000 hogs in Sumatra.

Ida Bagus Wisnuardhana, Bali’s agriculture and food security agency chief, said nearly 900 pigs succumbed to swine fever since mid-December.

“The results are positive for African swine fever,” Ida told reporters, referring to tests performed on the dead animals.

The string of deaths had appeared to stop over the past week, Wisnuardhana said, adding Bali would go ahead with a pork festival on Friday in a bid to ease concerns over the outbreak.

The announcement comes after Indonesia said this week it would temporarily ban some livestock imports from China over fears about the coronavirus, which has killed almost 500 people in China, where it originated.

In December, Indonesian officials said tens of thousands of pigs died from African swine fever in North Sumatra province.

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24,500 pigs to be killed due to swine fever in Bulgaria #pigs #SwineFever #Bulgaria

African Swine Fever Alert

Bulgarian veterinary authorities said on Friday they would cull 24,000 pigs after detecting an outbreak of African swine fever at a pig farm in the northeast of the country.

Reuters reports that the outbreak is the first at an industrial farm since August when the virus hit six breeding farms in the Balkan country, forcing the vet authorities to cull over 130,000 pigs.

The outbreak was detected at a farm in the village of Nikola Kozlevo in the region of Shumen, the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency said. The presence of African swine fever (ASF) was confirmed in the herd through laboratory tests.

In an interview televised by Bulgarian National Television, food safety agency head Professor Paskal Zhelyazkov said that the “infection has penetrated the site so extensively” that measures to separate and save un-affected pigs would not be possible.

Bulgaria has been developing its biosecurity protocol over the last 12 months as, according to a recent report by The Sofia Globe, 42 outbreaks of ASF were confirmed in Bulgaria in 2019.

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