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Vietnam to beef up prevention following rapid spread of African swine fever

Monday, March 04, 2019, 16:30 GMT+7
Vietnam to beef up prevention following rapid spread of African swine fever
Vehicles are sprayed with chemicals upon exiting an area where African swine fever is recorded in the northern city of Hai Phong. Photo: Hoang Phuoc / Tuoi Tre

African swine fever has been recorded in seven Vietnamese localities and affected nearly 4,000 pigs over the past month, prompting authorities to come up with measures to stop further outbreaks.

The affected localities include Hung Yen Province, Thai Binh Province, Ha Nam Province, Hai Duong Province, Hai Phong City, Hanoi, all of which are in northern Vietnam, and Thanh Hoa Province in the north-central region.

The number of pigs having been infected and disposed of reached 3,925 as of Sunday, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

African swine fever is a severe viral disease affecting domestic and wild pigs. It is incurable and the infected swine have a 100 percent fatality rate.

The virus has high resistance and can spread through the air, food, and drinking water. Although the disease is not a risk to human health, it can result in serious production and economic losses.

According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien, one of the reasons for the fast and complicated development of the disease is that Vietnam has bustling commercial activities relating to the slaughte, transportation, and distribution of pork.

Nearly 50 percent of small-scale husbandry facilities in the country do not meet standards regarding biosecurity and disease prevention.

These facilities are usually the places where the outbreaks start, Tien elaborated, adding that humidity and rain have helped spread the virus.

A delegation from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development inspect an affected neighborhood in Hai Phong City on March 2, 2019. Photo: Tien Thang / Tuoi Tre
Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development inspect an affected neighborhood in Hai Phong City on March 2, 2019. Photo: Tien Thang / Tuoi Tre

Local authorities have faced multiple challenges in preventing the epidemic, including the inadequate management of pork and related products and a lack of personnel.

“The lack of a fast-track process to purchase anti-epidemic chemicals also exacerbates the issue,” Tien added.

It also took quite a long time for authorities to receive the infected pigs from local farmers to begin the disposal process, the deputy minister stated.

As the current financial support for affected farmers is fairly limited, the agriculture ministry has asked the prime minister to green-light further assistance for them, Tien continued.

“We will also request the premier to tighten the management of the sale and transportation of pork and pork products,” he said.

Authorities will raise awareness of the disease among farmers and provide them with instructions on how to deal with the epidemic.

As for long-term solutions to the issue, the agriculture ministry will seek help from international organizations in establishing modern livestock production chains that ensure food safety and disease prevention.

“As there is no vaccine against African swine fever, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science and Technology will continue their research to find the best prevention method,” he underlined.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc was scheduled to chair a teleconference with officials of 63 provinces and cities on Monday, during which issues relating to the disease would be discussed.

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