SIVASAGAR, April 8 - Hundreds of pigs dying of viral swine fever at Nitaipukhuri and Panidihing mouzas of Sivasagar district within a fortnight has sent danger signals to the rural economy at a time when it is reeling under COVID-19 induced lockdown.
Dr Jyotirmoi Sahariya, Veterinary Surgeon, Katior Veterinary Dispensary at Panidihing, when contacted, told this correspondent that over 150 deaths have been reported so far from Dolopa, Balikur, Tongkak and Milonkur areas of west Panidihing mouza. The number may be much higher as many rural folk do not report deaths of the animals to the hospital. Dr Sahariya also said that blood samples and later organ samples were sent to NERDD Laboratory, Khanapara, Guwahati for necessary research and diagnosis.
The report confirmed that the disease is a seasonal swine fever which might have infected local breeds from pigs brought for sale from Silapathar and other areas on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra. Dr Akshay Keshori, DVO, Sivasagar visited Katior recently and brought the necessary vaccines which are being administered in the villages, but a total lockdown may hamper the vaccination programme a little, Sahariya added.
Meanwhile, Gautom Baruah of Gohainpukhuri Bhatgajgaon who owns a pig farm reported the loss of 22 pigs and Riju Saikia of nearby Ahom pathar had lost 18 pigs in his farm till March 30. Dipok Bora, a local scribe at Bhatgajgaon told this correspondent that Gautom Baruah had earned Rs 2,78,000 the year before selling his farm pigs, but he is ruined now with a loss of about Rs 4 lakh. Similarly, Handikoi Taye of Seshamukh Bhekuri Sapori lost 23 pigs, Lakheswar Panging 11, Jayanta Taye 13, Umesh Taye 12, Jagyeswar Pnagong 13, Pili Tye 12, Second Panging 15, Nijora Pegu 15, Debajit Panging 12, Majid Pegu has lost 10 pigs. Over a 100 pigs belonging to different farmers in the village died within days.
In the wake of reports of pigs dying in large numbers in the area, the Sivasagar Deputy Commissioner Lakhinandan Gogoi visited the area on March 28 and met the veterinary officers of Nitaipukhuri and Katior besides the affected pig farmers there. Gogoi assured the farmers of sending a specialist team to the area to ascertain the cause of the deaths. The veterinary surgeons Dr Bipul Kumar Goswami and Dr Jyotirmoy Sahariya informed the DC of shortage of vaccines and other medicines till that time.
Many more deaths have been reported by other pig rearers at Sumoni Misinng gaon, Dolopa, Milonkur, Chitaliya, Seshaukh Na-pomuwa gaon, Borgaon, Katior, Jamira and other nearby villages. Dhanajay Taid, Head Master, Udoipur ME School said that the pig rearers of his village with 342 families have lost over 50 pigs since February and another 50 died in nearby Bogpara. In Dolopa and Milonkur, over 400 pigs reportedly died within two months and the local people there fear that the pig population may be wiped out altogether if the vaccination programme is not undertaken in right earnest. The local people urged the Minister in charge to expedite precautionary measures.
Some villagers have complained of carcasses of some dead animals thrown into the Dehing river by some unscrupulous persons which has polluted the entire Dihingmukh and Bhatgaj area. It may be mentioned that a large section of tribal population in Nitai and Panidihing mouzas are traditional pig rearers and pork is widely popular among the people and hence lucrative farm business piggery in the area needs more government support at the moment for survival.
The Sivasagar Deputy Commissioner in pursuance of the power bestowed on him under COVID 19 Regulation 2020 under Epidemic Disease Act 1807, Sec V, Para 7 exempted from restrictions all services under veterinary hospitals, dispensaries, clinics, diagnostic centres, goshalas, animal farms, poultry feed shops and milk distribution and collection centres in the district. Persons engaged in the veterinary and dairy services however are directed to maintain strict personal hygiene and dress code as precautionary measures.