GUWAHATI: Domestic pigs continued to die in Assam as the government is battling the deadly pandemic of African swine fever (AFS) in the animal.
This is the first time India is dealing with an outbreak of AFS.
According to official sources, 2,904 pigs died till 5pm on Tuesday. The deaths were reported from six districts. According to a census carried out last year, the state’s pig population is 21 lakh.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal asked the Veterinary and Forest departments to work with the National Pig Research Centre of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and draw a broad roadmap to save the state’s pig population.
“The Chief Minister asked doctors and other functionaries to ensure cleanliness and total sanitization of the pig habitable areas and use disinfectants,” an official statement said.
Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Minister Atul Bora told this newspaper that the government had taken the pandemic seriously as the mortality rate in AFS is very high – from 90 to 100 per cent.
“We are taking several measures to prevent the spread of the virus to other districts. We have formulated some plans, including the formation of a high-powered committee with officials and pig farmers, and are working according to those,” Bora said.
Human beings do not get infected by the virus but they could be its carriers, he explained.
The Minister said as of now, the department did not have any plans to cull the animals. He said it was working on other alternative options, including containment.
“We will collect samples within a radius of one kilometer of areas affected and test them. Similarly, containment zones will be created within a kilometer radius of infected areas. The surveillance zones will be within 10 km,” he said.
Manoj Basumatary, who is a pig farmer and founding president of Northeast Progressive Pig Farmers’ Association, said the pig farmers had been severely affected, first by COVID-19 pandemic and now by AFS. The annual pork business of the Northeast is of around Rs. 8,000-10,000 crore with Assam being the largest supplier.
The AFS was first detected in 1921 in Kenya. No vaccines or medicines have been discovered so far.