African Swine Flu (ASF) Strikes Kerala Pigs:
Deadly Virus That Threatens Pigs Lovers.
What is ASF?
African swine flu (ASF) is a highly contagious viral disease that affects domestic and wild pigs. It can cause high fever, hemorrhages, and death in infected animals. There is no vaccine or treatment for ASF, and the only way to prevent its spread is by culling (killing) the infected pigs and disposing of their carcasses properly.
How did ASF reach Kerala?
ASF was first detected in Africa in 1921, and since then it has spread to many countries in Europe, Asia, and Oceania. In India, ASF was first reported in Assam in May 2020, where it killed over 14,000 pigs. Later, it was detected in other northeastern states like Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland.
The source of ASF in Kerala is not yet known, but it is suspected that it might have been introduced by illegal movement of pigs from other states or countries. The first case of ASF in Kerala was reported on August 19, 2023, in a private farm in Malayampadi village in Kannur district.
Impact of ASF on Kerala
Kerala is one of the major consumers of pork in India, with an annual demand of about 12,000 tonnes. The state has about 2.5 lakh pigs, mostly reared by small and marginal farmers. The outbreak of ASF poses a serious threat to the livelihoods of these farmers, as well as the food security and economy of the state.
According to the state animal husbandry department, the loss due to ASF could be around Rs 100 crore. The department has also warned that if ASF spreads to other districts, it could wipe out the entire pig population in the state. The department has urged the farmers to report any suspicious symptoms or deaths of pigs to the nearest veterinary officer or animal disease control unit.
How to prevent and control ASF
ASF is a highly contagious disease that can spread through direct contact with infected pigs or their body fluids, contaminated feed or water, fomites (objects that can carry the virus), or vectors (insects that can transmit the virus). Therefore, the following measures are recommended to prevent and control ASF:
- Avoid illegal movement or import of pigs or pork products from other states or countries.
- Follow biosecurity measures such as fencing, disinfection, quarantine, and disposal of dead pigs.
- Report any signs of illness or death of pigs to the veterinary authorities immediately.
- Cooperate with the culling and vaccination operations conducted by the authorities.
- Do not consume or sell pork from infected or culled pigs.
- Seek medical attention if you develop any symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea after handling or consuming pork.
Risks of ASF to humans:
ASF does not affect humans directly, but it can pose indirect risks such as:
- Exposure to the virus through contact with infected pigs or their body fluids.
- Ingestion of contaminated pork or pork products.
- Transmission of other zoonotic diseases (diseases that can spread from animals to humans) such as leptospirosis, brucellosis, or salmonellosis through contact with infected pigs or their body fluids.
- Economic losses due to reduced pork production and consumption.
- Social unrest due to fear and panic among the public.
Therefore, it is important to follow the preventive and control measures mentioned above and stay alert and informed about the situation.