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Panic grips Lakhimpur dist as widespead death of pigs continues

By Correspondent

NORTH LAKHIMPUR, May 4 - Panic gripped people in Lakhimpur district as the African Swine Fever (ASF) has been detected in pigs, both in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh amid the nationwide lockdown.

The confirmation of ASF in pigs of these two neighbouring States has been made by the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal where samples from Assam and Arunachal Pradesh were sent after widespread death of these animals last week. Lakhimpur is one of the six districts in Assam from where samples were sent to NIHSAD, Bhopal. The Papum-Pare is also one of the districts in Arunachal Pradesh, which shares the inter-State boundary with Lakhimpur, from where similar samples were sent to the Bhopal laboratory.

The confirmation of ASF in pigs of Assam created a panic situation among pig farmers and traders across Lakhimpur district as already there have been reports of widespread death of the animals during the last couple of days. In Lohit avulsion stream of the Brahmaputra, now a course of the Subansiri separating Majuli from Lakhimpur, carcasses of pigs have been stuck in large numbers on hyacinths and on the posts of the wooden bridge since last week.

The local villagers alleged that dead pigs might have been thrown into the river in the upstream areas. The villagers have been trying hard to clear the hyacinth from the river to let the carcasses pass. Nine posts of the wooden bridge, which are being used by vehicles to cross the stream after crossing the Dhunaguri ferry ghat near Bihpuria, have also been pulled out to allow the carcasses to flow past.

In Dhakuakhana subdivision of Lakhimpur district, a large number of pigs have been dying in recent days affecting the livelihood of many rural families. The worst-affected areas are Matmora, Harhi-Gobindapur, Dangdhora and Dhakuakhana as well as neighbouring Ghilamora. On Monday, pig carcasses were seen floating on Charikodiya river � the cultural identity of Dhakuakhana. Similar scenes were also seen in Dangdhora river in the subdivision.

It is a matter of great concern for the people of Lakhimpur district as many rivers that flow through it originate from Arunachal Pradesh. The district shares 108.8 kilometres of inter-State boundary with the neighbouring State.

The fear arising from the confirmation of ASF in pigs in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh is now creating panick among the villagers who were engaged in clearing the river from the carcasses. However, veterinary experts said that ASF does not transmit from animals to humans. But the matter of concern is that unlike Classical Swine Fever (CSF), there is still no vaccine for ASF.

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, ASF is a severe epizootic viral disease affecting both domestic and wild pigs. It can spread by live or dead pigs and pork. Transmission can also occur via contaminated feed and objects such as shoes, clothes, vehicles, knives and other equipment.

The ASF was first detected in Kenya in 1909, which spread across Europe and America in the 1960s and 80s.

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