Guwahati: With thousands of domestic pigs dying in Assam due to the African Swine Fever (ASF), the Centre has advised the state government to go for culling of pigs affected by the disease.
“We have been asked to divide the affected areas into zones and go for culling accordingly. The situation is quite serious since there are many pig farmers now with more than 20 lakh pigs, said Atul Bora, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Minister.
Earlier, the state government confirmed that it is the AFS and not the classical swine fever that has killed domestic pigs across Assam.
“A lab in Bhopal has confirmed the disease as AFS, which has symptoms similar to classical swine fever or hog cholera and can be differentiated only in the laboratories,” said Dr Pulin Chandra Das, Director of Veterinary and Animal Husbandry.
Even as the rate of infection has flattened a bit in the past couple of days, official data reveals about 2,500 pigs have died from the disease. However, pig farmers in Assam said the disease has killed more than 30,000 pigs in less than a fortnight. The infection seems to be more among the animals that are not confined to pigsties but allowed to move about.
Officials also pointed out that 28 pig carcasses found floating in the Brahmaputra in eastern Assam could have floated down from the hills of neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh and further up in China. Bora had also raised suspicion about China a few days ago when the estimated porcine death was 2,200.
However, Arunachal Pradesh government said it has no reports of pig carcasses flowing down water bodies originating in China. The Siang, which flows down from Tibet as the Yarlung Tsangpo, is one of the three rivers that meet to form the Brahmaputra in Assam downstream.
“No one has seen anything yet,” said Rajeev Takuk, Deputy Commissioner of Siang district.
The Assam government, meanwhile, has issued an advisory to the national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests to be on guard because of the AFS outbreak.
The advisory said a good number of wild pigs in certain reserve forests in the state may have come into contact with domestic pig population reared in the countryside and, as such, the wild pig population should be protected from venturing out of their natural habitat to prevent them from coming into contact with infected domestic pigs.
“We detected seven carcasses of pigs floating on the river Brahmaputra. These were disposed of with help from veterinary officials,” said P Sivakumar, Director, Kaziranga National Park.
“We have also been organising awareness meetings with villagers for proper disposal of carcasses as humans and animals drink the river water,” he added.
While coronavirus lockdown continues to affect pig farmers in Assam, AFS has made it even more difficult for both farmers and those in pork business — worth about Rs 8,000 crore in northeast.