GUWAHATI, May 3 - The ongoing African swine fever outbreak, which has so far killed 2,484 pigs in the State, originated in the Xinjiang province of China in April last year. Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Minister Atul Bora today informed the media that from China the disease spread to Arunachal Pradesh and then entered upper Assam. As per estimate, till date around 306 villages of the State got affected by the disease.
The minister made the statement after a review meeting held at the College of Veterinary Science here where representatives of pig farmers coming from different parts of the State, especially from the affected districts, veterinary experts and senior officials of the department took part.
For this disease, human body is a good carrier of the virus and it becomes a challenge for the State veterinary department to curb the massive outbreak.
Citing an example, Bora said recently in a farm of Dhemaji district, 230 pigs died of the disease. �Later we came to know that the virus was transported to that farm through one of its caretakers, in whose home pigs also died of the same disease,� he said.
Bora said free-ranging pigs are highly vulnerable to the disease. As a preventive measure, while restricting such pigs from today, the minister directed every pig farmer to keep their animals in intensive care. He said the government will take action against free-ranging of pigs through respective district administrations.
As another preventive measure, the department is also contemplating culling of infected pigs. But, according to the minister, the department prefers to save the pigs rather than culling them. Moreover, if needed, the culling will be done zone-wise, where infection has already taken place.
As per 2019 census, Assam had around 21 lakh pigs but the number has increased to around 30 lakh this year.
To prevent the disease, as per the contingency plan issued by the Central government, the affected areas have been classified into infected or containment zone and surveillance zone. The department will also carry out awareness camps across the State and in every district a high-level committee will look after the implementation of the Central government guidelines to contain the disease.
The infected zone will cover an area within a radius of one km from an infected farm and the surveillance zone will cover an area within a radius of 10 km from an infected farm.
Meanwhile, the minister asserted that there will be no restriction on consumption of meat of healthy pigs. Interstate movement of livestock carrying vehicles has been banned in view of the epidemic.
The department has also temporarily stopped the vaccination for classical swine fever for 20 days. The vaccination drive against the disease will resume after the period as experts have been studying the situation. In the next vaccination drive, the department will use GPS tagging.
The minister will also request Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to talk with his counterparts of all the northeastern states to take action to prevent the disease. Bora also made it clear that African swine fever has no link with COVID-19.