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African swine fever outbreak kills 3,000 pigs in Indonesia

15:56 | 28/02/2020

Indonesia is tightening curbs on the transport of pigs and pork products after nearly 3,000 animals died in a new outbreak of African swine fever in an eastern province bordering East Timor, the agriculture ministry said in a statement released on Friday (Feb 28).

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Hogs look on from their pen at a pig farm in Denpasar, Indonesia's Bali island on Feb 5, 2020. (Photo: AFP/SONNY TUMBELAKA)

According to the ministry, 2,825 pigs had died by Thursday in five areas of East Nusa Tenggara. The curbs will also be enforced along the border with East Timor, where cases had been reported since late in September.

"I have asked officers and quarantine authorities to tighten transport of live animals and products from East Timor," I Ketut Diarmita, the ministry's director-general for livestock and animal health, said in the statement.

The ministry has sent teams to determine the source of the infection, carry out disinfection and stiffen biosecurity measures, he added, urging farmers not to sell sick animals and to dispose of pig carcasses properly.

The province has a pig population of about 2.1 million, government data shows. The latest outbreak comes after the disease emerged in the western province of North Sumatra to kill more than 47,000 pigs by Monday.

On the tourist resort island of Bali, more than 1,700 pigs have also died of suspected swine fever.

Head of the East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) Animal Husbandry Agency Dani Sumadi said the virus was very deadly, with almost a 100 percent mortality rate for pigs that became infected.

“The symptoms start with the pig refusing to eat, becoming feverish, and then experiencing seizures,” he told The Jakarta Post. “Once the seizures start, the pig will certainly die.”

Dani said the virus had spread from neighboring Timor-Leste, where an ASF epidemic had broken out from August to September last year.

He said his agency had imposed strict regulations on imports of processed pork products as well as live pigs from Timor-Leste since last year, in an attempt to prevent the virus from spreading to the province.

“On Oct. 3, NTT Governor Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodateven issued an instruction to ban Timor-Leste products from entering NTT,” he said.

Patrisius Petrus, a pig farmer from Sikka regency, said the virus had made him worried about the future of his business.

“I don’t have that many [pigs], only six of them. I keep them as a hobby after I return home from teaching at a school. My income from pig farming is enough to support my family. I hope the virus doesn’t spread to Flores,” Patrisius said./.

VNF/Reuters/Jakarta Post