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Blue ear outbreak prompts crisis meeting

by 5m Editor
2 August 2007, at 9:47am

VIET NAM - The Ho Chi Minh City Steering Board for Disease Control convened an urgent meeting yesterday to discuss ways of combating the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) Virus, commonly known as blue ear, which is ravaging through pig herds in some regions.

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Animal Health said pig farmers should not increase their herds until the danger had passed, and should kill the pigs they do have, then freeze and process them.

Nguyen Phuoc Thao, director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, advised that vaccination against infectious diseases be stepped up.

To deal with a possible epidemic actively, he said, those responsible for controlling the disease must be determined to kill all pigs with blue ear so that it cannot spread.

The flip side of this, as was pointed out at the meeting, is that illegal slaughterhouses and businesses will shut their doors if they see an inspector anywhere in the vicinity.

Inspectors need a warrant before searching a farm or business premises, but it takes a long time to get one because of all the paperwork and other formalities.

Moreover, some farmers are banking on big profits from the reduced supply of pork, but only if their animals are lucky enough not to contract the disease.

At the local level, authorities in Binh Chanh District are beefing up their monitoring of the streets and rivers and asking that pig farmers to cooperate by not increasing their herds or raising pigs whose origin is unknown.

In Long An Province on Monday, inspectors found a diseased pig among four that had just been taken to a slaughterhouse in Can Giuoc District.

They killed all four pigs immediately and the Long An Department of Animal Health penalized a local vet for failing to spot the sick animal.

For some reasons, blue ear seems to be less of a problem in Central Viet Nam.

Quang Nam’s Department of Animal Health says only 2,119 diseased pigs have been found in the province, and only in four districts - Duy Xuyen, Dien Ban, Que Son and Thang Binh.

In nearby Da Nang, vets are treating 180 pigs with blue ear. Cao Xuan Thai, who heads the coastal city’s Department of Animal Health, says authorities and farmers have worked well to control the disease.

5m Editor