Assam Minister for Agriculture and Veterinary Atul Bora has confirmed that there indeed is an outbreak of the African Swine Fever in the state of Assam. This was confirmed to the state Government last night by the National Institute of High Security Animal Disease, Bhopal.
Bora, making the announcement in front of media personnel earlier today, said: "This had not been reported earlier in Assam. We suspect that this exotic virus has reached the state via Arunachal Pradesh. Initially, it was reported in Arunachal, and later the symptoms were witnessed in Jonai adjoining Arunachal. Then, the cases were also detected in Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Sibsagar, Dibrugarh, Biswanath. The sample tests were done and we were waiting for the report and now a meeting has been convened to discuss the issue."
In the same breath, Bora announced that a meeting will also be held with an association of piggery farmers in the state to further discuss and deliberate upon this very serious discovery.
At the same time, the department, Bora said, has formed a committee of top-ranking Government officials and experts to further discuss what steps are to be taken to tackle the challenges of the virus that has killed several thousand pigs in the NE Indian region.
Responding to a query, Bora said that "culling" (or selective slaughter) is the only way to stop the spread of the virus and is usually given by the Centre as its guidelines. However, he has promised to discuss the issue with the piggery owners before taking the drastic step.
It may be mentioned here that the African swine fever virus is a large, double-stranded DNA virus in the Asfarviridae family.
It is the causative agent of African swine fever. The virus causes a hemorrhagic fever with high mortality rates in domestic pigs; some isolates can cause death of animals as quickly as a week after infection.
There are neither vaccines nor cures. For this reason, it has serious socio-economic consequences in affected countries. Humans are not susceptible to the disease.
The typical signs of African swine fever are similar to classical swine fever, and the two diseases normally have to be distinguished by laboratory diagnosis.
Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, lack of energy, abortions, internal bleeding, with haemorrhages visible on the ears and flanks.
Sudden death may occur in pigs or boars affected by the virus. Severe strains of the virus are generally fatal (death occurs within 10 days). Animals infected with mild strains of African swine fever virus may not show typical clinical signs.
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