Health authorities in Omusati yesterday said 61 pigs have died from African swine fever following an outbreak in the region, affecting nearly 200 animals. Omusati State veterinarian Josephat Peter confirmed the outbreak, saying a local farmer reported the first case on 17 March.
So far, he said, more than 20 villages in that region have approached their offices with a number of cases. He said post-mortems were conducted and the virus was confirmed last Saturday. The public has been warned against the eating of the dead pigs. “We are urging all our people within our region to take precautionary measures when they are handling infected pigs or to report all the suspected cases to our offices for us to visit their places and advise them to put them down because they will not survive the virus,” he explained.
African swine fever is a viral disease of domestic pigs, which is usually characterised by severe illness and sudden death. Because of its seriousness, the veterinarian is urging people to report it as soon as it affects the kraal.
He explained that the disease is spread by pig-to-pig contact, mechanical carriage by humans or equipment, contaminated injection needles and ticks or uncooked waste food.
Peter further explained that the virus can survive for very long periods in the environment and, therefore, can also spread via contaminated pig pens. According to the State veterinarian, some of the signs that may be observed within the pigs are depression, loss of appetite, swaying gait, red or blue skin discolouration on the chest and stomach, tips of ears or tail or feet, difficulty in breathing, diarrhoea, vomiting, coughing and abortion.
He stated further that there is no vaccine to prevent African swine fever or drugs to treat it. However, one can only rely on measures to prevent it from spreading. Peter said some of the preventative measures include raising pigs in confined pens and separating them from the neighbour’s pigs and warthogs.
He also urged people to boil any leftover food before feeding it to pigs, clean and disinfect pig houses and then rest the pens for at least two weeks before introducing new pigs.
“People should always consult their nearest veterinary official if they see any of the signs described above; keep the pigs free of ticks, and if you have come in contact with potentially infected material (pig meat, pig manure) from other places, ensure you change potentially contaminated clothes and shoes and thoroughly wash your hands before entering your pig houses,” he warned.