Malaysia to Cull 3,000 Pigs After Finding First Swine Fever Case
(Bloomberg) -- Malaysia will cull about 3,000 pigs in the Borneo state of Sabah as it races to curb the first African swine fever outbreak in the country.
Necessary action will be taken to stop the spread of the virus, which was discovered among pigs in northern Sabah last month, according to Deputy Chief Minister Jeffrey Kitingan. “This includes the culling of pigs in the affected areas, controlling the movement of pigs and the selling of pork products originating from the affected areas,” he said in a statement last week.
The hog-killing virus was found in about 300 domestic pigs and wild boars in Pitas, Beluran and Kota Marudu districts from Feb. 8-11, according to an alert submitted to the World Organization for Animal Health. Investigation started after the death of a wild boar and was extended after laboratory samples confirmed the virus in backyard pigs in Pitas and wild boars in Beluran.
There are about 2,000 pigs in Pitas and about 1,000 wild bearded pigs within a radius of 50 kilometers, Kitingan, who is also state Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, said in a separate statement. The Bornean bearded pig, recognized by long tufts of hair on its snout and cheeks, is classified as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List due to deforestation, habitat fragmentation and over-hunting.
African swine fever, which is fatal to pigs but is not known to harm humans, slashed China’s hog herd by almost half after it was first reported in 2018, triggering a surge in pork imports and prices in the world’s biggest producer. Although pig numbers are anticipated to fully recover by mid-2021, Chinese scientists recently discovered new strains that are milder but highly transmissible, complicating efforts to control the disease.
“The focus now is to contain the virus from spreading outside of Pitas. However, if this happens, we would do everything we can to protect our main pig-farming areas to ensure that Sabah’s pork production remains unaffected,” Kitingan said. So far, the virus has had minimal impact on the 300 million ringgit ($74 million) Sabah pork market.
The ministry has also collected samples from slaughterhouses, commercial pork sales centers and vendors selling smoked wild bearded pigs across the state to test for the virus. Affected villages or premises will be disinfected, and the state government is considering to compensate farmers whose pigs are culled, he said.
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