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ASF Threatens Over 90,000 Pigs in Northern Malawi

by 5m Editor
10 June 2011, at 9:34am

MALAWI - The Department of Animal Health and Livestock Development under Mzuzu Agricultural Development Division says a suspected outbreak of African swine fever has occurred in Rumphi and Mzimba Districts putting at risk a total of 92,000 pigs.

According to the department 5,000 pigs valued at MK25 million have already died. African swine fever is a viral disease affecting both domestic and wild pigs. It is highly contagious.

The affected areas include Chiweta, Mhuju, Nchenachena, Bolero and Katowo in Rumphi and Emfeni in Mzimba. So far 4600 pigs in Rumphi and 365 pigs in Mzimba have died due to the suspected outbreak, Nyasa Times reports.

A farmer, Inkhosana Nkhambule, who has reared pigs for over 30 years, was surprised to find 15 of the 50 pigs which were reared on a free range basis having difficulties walking.

"I was not surprised I thought they had fought amongst themselves. But come morning I had 15 dead pigs."

The following day the remaining pigs also died. "I was devastated because through sales of pigs I managed to send my children to school and feed my family of eight," lamented Mrs Nkhambule.

"That was the saddest day of my life," she said. On the third day, Mrs Nkhambule went to the Veterinary offices in Mzuzu but while in Mzuzu the rest of the pigs died.

"They told me it was swine fever and that it had no cure apart from restricting the movement of pigs which is difficult in the rural areas where we live because we have nothing to feed the pigs," she said.

Typically pigs with swine fever have difficulty walking, breathe abnormally and have a bluish chest, Chief Animal Health Officer Jacob Mwasinga said.

Mr Mwasinga said swine fever which was detected in Tanzania three months ago crossed over to Malawi through illegal transportation of pigs or pork.

"In Karonga and Chitipa districts which border Tanzania about 6000 pigs have died. So far they is no vaccination but we bar the transportation of pigs or pork but we have not been successful because the disease is here in Mzimba district about 225Km from Karonga," he said

Mr Mwasinga said they have enlisted the help of the police to ensure that pigs or pork is not transported from one area to another.

"There is no effect on people who eat meat from infected animals apart from the fact that they become carriers of the disease and can easily pass it on if they enter a pig sty or come into contact with pigs," he explained.

Further Reading

- Find out more information on African swine fever by clicking here.