At a time when the second wave of the COVID19 is yet to wrap up completely, the northeastern state of Mizoram is reporting a surge in the cases of another viral disease — African swine fever (ASF) — which infects pigs.
Although the virus of the African swine fever cannot infect human beings, the outbreak is causing heavy losses to farmers in the northeastern state who rear pigs. It is also expected to impact the livestock-supported agrarian economy of the state.
According to the Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary of the state government, the first case of African swine fever was reported from Lunglei district on March 21.
“The maiden case of African swine fever was reported on March 21. Since then, it has spread to nine out of eleven districts of Mizoram. Till now, a total of 5,237 deaths of pigs have been attributed to the viral outbreak,” Lalmingthanga, the joint director of the department told Gaon Connection.
“Nine districts — Aizawl, Lunglei, Mamit, Serchhip, Lawngtlai, Khawzawl, Hnahthial, Siaha and Champhai have recorded the outbreak while Kolasib and Saitual districts are free of the virus at present,” he added.
‘Highly contagious, high fatality, no vaccine’
According to the World Organization for Animal Health, the Paris-based intergovernmental organisation, Arfican swine fever is a highly contagious disease which can spread to pigs from alive or dead pigs. Its transmission can also occur via ‘contaminated feed and fomites (non-living objects) such as shoes, clothes, vehicles, knives, equipment due to the high environmental resistance of ASF virus’.
“Currently there is no approved vaccine for ASF,” it notes.
“Acute forms of ASF are characterised by high fever, depression, anorexia and loss of appetite, haemorrhages in the skin (redness of skin on ears, abdomen and legs), abortion in pregnant sows, cyanosis, vomiting, diarrhoea and death within 6-13 days (or up to 20 days). Mortality rates may be as high as 100%,” the organisation informs.
Culling and compensation
In order to check the spread of African swine fever virus, the infected pigs are put to sleep and the farmers are compensated for the same.
“Some farmers have approached us for culling their pigs. So far, we have culled animals in three commercial pig farms. Each of these farms had 60-70 pigs each,” Lalmingthanga told Gaon Connection.
“In order to provide compensation to these farmers, we will have to send a proposal to the Central government to release funds for compensation,” he added.
It is learnt that the compensation is shared between the state government and the Centre. Half of the amount is subsidised by the Centre while the other half is to be paid by the state. Small pigs that weigh less than 15 kilograms are officially compensated with Rs 2,200.
Larger pigs weighing between 15 to 40 kgs are compensated with Rs 5,800. Those weighing between 40 kgs to 70 kgs are compensated with Rs 8,400 while the amount is Rs 12,000 for pigs weighing 70 kgs to 100 kgs.
In a recent post on Twitter, Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga had expressed worry about the outbreak.
“The state of Mizoram is struggling with its livestock sector. Piggery farmers and their economic stances are at stake!” he wrote.
Assam had witnessed a similar outbreak of the Afircan swine fever last year, in which at least 18,000 pigs died due to the disease.
Globally, countries that have recorded the outbreak include Mongolia, China, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia.