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Don't panic, bacon lovers - experts on swine fever outbreak

Apr 11 2019 21:19
Marelise van der Merwe

The farm where an outbreak of African Swine Fever has been reported in North West Province has been quarantined, officials at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries have said.

The outbreak, near Zeerust, was reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health on April 10.

ASF is a severe disease in pigs which can cause the animals to become sick very fast and can result in a large number of deaths in a very short time period. It is transmitted by contact with infected pigs or warthogs carrying infected ticks.

It does not affect humans, the DAFF said.

According to a statement issued by DAFF Acting Chief Director of Stakeholder Relations Zweli Silangwe, swine fever is endemic in wildlife in the ASF controlled area, with specific measures for keeping pigs in this area described in the Animal Diseases Act of 1984.

The farm in question has been placed under quarantine by the North West Provincial Veterinary Services, who are also doing follow-up investigations and applying disease control measures.

'Go on folks, eat your bacon'

Meanwhile, agricultural economist and Fin24 columnist Wandile Sihlobo said there was "no imminent threat" to the SA pork industry or consumers.

"So, go on folks, and eat your bacon, ribs, pork belly sandwiches, etc.," he wrote on Wednesday.

"The outbreak was detected early, with good response from the government veterinarians, who are now hard at work to ensure that it is controlled," he added.

However, he said, African swine fever is a serious disease, with a recent report from the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations suggesting China had culled over a million pigs in an effort to control its spread since August 2018.

This is equal to 71% of South Africa's pig herd.

"Fortunately, South Africa is nowhere near to what we are witnessing in China," Sihlobo said. "I am hoping that the outbreak is controlled successfully."

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