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African swine fever threatens Ho Chi Minh City

Saturday, May 11, 2019, 14:57 GMT+7
African swine fever threatens Ho Chi Minh City
A pig farm in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tran Manh / Tuoi Tre

With outbreaks of the African swine fever already reported in two of Ho Chi Minh City’s neighboring provinces, city officials are ramping up measures to prevent its spread.

The highly contagious disease, which is incurable in pigs but harmless to humans, has spread rapidly across neighboring China since August 2018, and has been found in many areas of northern Vietnam earlier this year.

In Dong Nai Province, outbreaks of the African swine fever were first reported on April 26 and has now spread to four communes in Trang Bom and Nhon Trach Districts.

With a swine population of over two million, Dong Nai is Ho Chi Minh City’s largest pork supplier, accounting for nearly half of the southern metropolis’ daily pork consumption.

On Thursday, the first cases of swine fever infection were discovered in Binh Phuoc Province, 120 kilometers north of Ho Chi Minh City, city leaders said at a Friday socio-economic meeting.

Ho Chi Minh City consumes between 6,500 and 7,000 pigs daily, mostly sourced from other provinces including Dong Nai and Binh Phuoc.

This increases risks of the disease spreading to the southern metropolis, especially with the unregulated operation of illegal slaughterhouses in these provinces, said Pham Khanh Phong Lan, who heads the city’s food safety committee.

Ho Chi Minh City has a swine population of nearly 280,000, according to the municipal Animal Health Department.

Most of the family-raised animals are fed leftovers from local restaurants, which adds to the risk of contracting the African swine fever.

Ho Chi Minh City deputy chairman Le Thanh Liem has demanded more inspections be conducted to prevent the disease’ spread.

Local pig farms are also asked to switch to industrial pig food for safety reasons.

24/7 checkpoints have also been set up on key roads to prevent infected pigs from being transported into Ho Chi Minh City for consumption.

“Whichever area allows an African swine fever outbreak to occur will have its leader answer to the municipal administration,” Liem said Friday.

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