Vietnam on alert for possible outbreak of African swine fever hinh anh 1A pig farm in Quang Ngai is under cleaning process to prevent ASF (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Given the complexity of African swine fever (ASF) outbreaks in neighbouring country China, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has said that the disease is at high risk of entering Vietnam.

The soaring trade and transport of pigs, as well as abundant supplies of pork of unknown origins and smuggled pork products, particularly in the northern provinces that border Chinese localities, during the end of 2018 and just before the Lunar New Year holiday earlier this month lie at the root of the problem.

Daily travels between Vietnam and its neighbouring nations, as well as the large number of international visitors to the country also add further concern to the issue. Many Asian passengers have the habit of bringing food, which may contain pork, during their travels, which poses a risk of introducing the disease to Vietnam, as has happened to the Republic of Korea, Japan, and Thailand.  

As pork prices were high during the end of last year, profit-minded businessmen were involved in trading and distributing pigs which were ill, dead, or had unclear origins.  

The MARD said most pig farms in Vietnam are of a small scale with a high density and often fail to meet hygiene standards. The situation, coupled with the unfavorable cold, rainy weather, has created a breeding ground for the disease to spread, it added.

The ASF virus does not affect humans but does cause haemorrhagic fever in pigs and wild boars that is almost always fatal. There is no antidote or vaccine, and the only known preventative measure is a mass cull of infected livestock. The disease spreads by contact between infected pigs or other wild animals and can inflict massive economic damage on farms.

In prevention of the virus, since August 2018, the MARD has organised inter-sector working teams to visit and inspect high-risk localities like Hanoi, Lang Son, Quang Ninh, Lao Cai, and Hoa Binh.

The PM has banned the transport, trade, slaughtering, and distribution of pork products that are smuggled, suspected of being smuggled, or come from unknown origins. The illegal transport of animals and animal products from other countries into Vietnam faces strict punishment, while border routes connecting Vietnam with ASF-infected nations are tightly monitored.

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), between 2017 and February 18, 2019, 20 countries and regions have suffered from the ASF, with over 1.08 million pigs culled. A total of 105 outbreaks were discovered in China from August 3, 2018 to February 18, 2019, resulting in the termination of 950,000 pigs, while one dead pig was found positive of the ASF virus in Taiwan on January 17, 2019. –VNA