African swine fever kills 40 pigs in Chhukha

The National Centre for Animal Health at Serbithang, Thimphu confirmed an outbreak of African swine fever in Chhukha on Sunday. More than 40 pigs have died in a semi-commercial pig farm in Samphelling Gewog in the district due to the outbreak. According to the agriculture ministry, African Swine Fever is a highly contagious viral disease that causes up to 100 per cent of death in affected farms. 

The outbreak was reported in the Phurbaling village of Samphelling Gewog in Chhukha. 14 pigs are reported sick as of today with more than 600 pigs at risk of the disease in the gewog.

The most commonly observed symptoms in the pigs are high fever respiratory distress, reddening of the skin, diarrhoea and vomiting, loss of appetite and weakness, abortion in pregnant sows and sudden death.

Due to the risks of the spread of the disease from the affected area, the Department of Live Stock had banned the movement of all livestock and livestock products from Samphelling Gewog for now.

‘‘This ban will be reduced in one or two days depending upon the surveillance that is currently been put in place across Samphelling Gewog,” said Dr Sangay Rinchen, Head of Disease Prevention and Control Unit at the National Centre for Animal Health.

The agriculture ministry said that although the disease does not affect humans, it can cause catastrophic socio-economic consequences for the pig farming sector. Currently, there are no effective vaccines and treatments available for the prevention and control of this disease.

There are over 50 pig farms in Samphelling Gewog alone.

‘‘It can cause huge economic loss to the communities whose livelihood depends on pig farming. So that’s why, as a measure, we had instituted an operation centre in Phuentshogling. And our colleagues from the Department of Livestock and BAFRA are in place responding to the outbreak,” added Dr Sangay Rinchen.

To prevent the outbreak of the disease in other parts of the country, the ministry is cautioning the pig farmers across the country to implement good husbandry practices.

The ministry is advising pig farmers to limit visitors on the farm, use disinfectant foot dips, segregate sick animals and avoid feeding untreated swills and kitchen wastes containing pig offal to the pigs.

The current outbreak in the country is reported following the recent reports of outbreaks in the region including the north-eastern states of India.

Karma Wangdi

Edited by Phub Gyem

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