Over 3,350 pigs killed by African Swine Fever so far this year

IANS : Representational photo

Aizawl, June 25 (IANS) With 160 more pigs killed by the African Swine Fever (ASF) infection in the past two days, the death toll of pigs following the outbreak of the disease in Mizoram since February has crossed 3,350, officials said on Tuesday.

Officials in the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary (AHV) Department said that deaths of pigs in the past two days were reported from mainly from Saitual, Aizawl, Serchhip, and Khawzawl districts.

At least 300 pigs were culled on Monday and Tuesday to prevent further spread of the contagious disease, raising the total number of pigs culled in the state this year to 6,504.

The officials said that pigs in at least 120 villages in six districts – Aizawl, Champhai, Lunglei, Saitual, Khawzawl and Serchhip -- have been infected by the ASF outbreak so far.

AHV officials said that 33,420 pigs and piglets died due to ASF in 2021, 12,800 in 2022, and 1,040 in 2023.

The first case of ASF in Mizoram was reported in mid-March, 2021, from Lungsen village in Lunglei district along the Bangladesh border and since then, the disease resurfaced every year.

An official said that under the Prevention and Control of Infectious and Contagious Disease in Animals Act, 2009, the department has declared various villages and localities in the six districts as infected areas following the outbreak of ASF.

With the fast spreading of the infection, the department has barred the supply of pigs, piglets and pork from the infected areas.

The state government also banned the import of pigs and piglets from neighbouring states and countries where perpetual ASF infestations are being reported.

According to officials, the outbreak of ASF mostly occurs when the climate begins to warm up and pre-monsoon rain commences in the state.

The government has so far provided compensation to over 3,000 families for the loss of pigs due to the disease.

According to experts, the outbreak of ASF may have been caused by pigs or pork brought from neighbouring Myanmar, Bangladesh, and the adjoining states of the northeast.

Pork is one of the most common and popular meats consumed by both the tribals and non-tribals in the northeastern region.

With heavy demand for pork in the region, its annual business is worth around Rs 8,000-10,000 crore in the Norteast, with Assam being the largest supplier.