Alert after swine fever grips Karnataka-Kerala border

These include virus transmission via fomites such as vehicles, people, or clothing, through consumption of contaminated pork products, and from infected kept pigs.
Image used for representational purpose only.
Image used for representational purpose only.

CHENNAI: The Union government has put Tamil Nadu on alert following suspected cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) in wild pigs in HD Kote taluk of Mysuru district on the Karnataka-Kerala border.

Abhijit Mitra, Commissioner of Animal Husbandry in the Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, has directed the authorities of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala to take necessary precautions and look out for any unusual mortality or disease in feral pigs and investigate as per the National Action Plan (NCP) of African swine fever.  

“A field inspection may also be undertaken to gather additional evidence on the presence/ absence of feral pigs in domestic pig zones,” the ministry’s letter reads, a copy of which is available with TNIE. When contacted, Mangat Ram Sharma, additional chief secretary, of the Department of Animal Husbandry, also confirmed to TNIE that written communication was received from the Centre, and border district administrations were alerted. “

Chief Wildlife Warden Srinivas R Reddy said forest officials concerned were alerted to pick-up signs of the disease, if any. Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) would be vulnerable considering the number of vehicles and tourists coming from both Karnataka and Kerala.

As per the NCP, there are a number of potential routes for African swine fever to be introduced into feral pigs. These include virus transmission via fomites such as vehicles, people, or clothing, through consumption of contaminated pork products, and from infected kept pigs. Any clothing, footwear, vehicles, or equipment that could potentially be contaminated should be cleansed and disinfected. Any food waste should be disposed of securely to ensure that pigs cannot access them.  

P Arun Kumar, Deputy Director of MTR (Buffer Zone), told TNIE that so far there are no usual deaths of wild pigs in Tamil Nadu. “Last year, there was one confirmed case. We had made arrangements at the check post to disinfect the vehicles by creating the potassium permanganate dip through which vehicles pass and their tyres get disinfected.”

What’s African Swine Fever

The African Swine Fever is a highly contagious and fatal disease for domestic and feral pigs (including wild boar) transmitted through direct and indirect contact, ingestion of contaminated feedstuffs and by certain tick vector species. The disease does not infect humans (not Zoonotic) or other livestock species. However, no vaccine or drugs are available to prevent ASF infection at present.  ASF was detected first in 1921 in Kenya and is generally prevalent and endemic in countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and in some Caribbean countries. India notified the first outbreak of ASF virus in January, 2020 in the North Eastern States of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

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