Sabah govt declares African swine fever outbreak, to cull pigs in hit areas

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government through the state Veterinary Services Department (DVS) has declared an outbreak of the African swine fever (ASF) in Pitas following the discovery of the virus in pigs in the district.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, who is also state Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, said following this declaration, the department has been given the authority under Subsection 45(1) of the Animal Enactment 2015, to take the necessary measures to curb the spread of the disease.

“These include the culling of pigs in the affected areas and controlling the movement of pigs and selling of pork products originating from the affected areas.

“At the same time, the affected villages and premises will be disinfected and the government through the DVS will also kick off an awareness campaign to increase the people’s understanding of the disease,” he said in a statement, today.

Jeffrey said the culling of all affected pigs would be done as soon as possible as the ASF is a highly infectious disease with no cure or ready vaccine to prevent it.

He said the government would consider compensating the farmers whose pigs have been culled by the DVS, based on the rates which would be determined later.

He also said that this control measure would be coordinated through the district disaster management committee and was expected to be completed within six months.

“Our main goal is to stop this disease from spreading to commercial pig farms based in Tuaran, Kota Kinabalu, Papar, Sandakan and Tawau,” he added.

Currently, the ASF does not affect the production of pork for domestic consumption which is estimated to be worth RM300 million a year.

“We took note of the Sarawak government’s decision to ban pork and pork products from Sabah. However, we are confident the ban will not have a significant effect on the pork industry in Sabah,” he said and reiterated that the ASF, a specific disease for pigs, is harmless to humans.

Meanwhile, the DVS is currently conducting a statewide Livestock Census, which aims to collect complete data on the livestock industry and veterinary services to help draft policies, control diseases and other programmes.

“The department is asking for cooperation from the public when the census workers visit their premises to conduct interviews. The census is expected to end by April this year,” he said, adding that the census would also cover domestic animals including cats and dogs. – Bernama