KUALA LUMPUR, June 24 – The Malaysian government said it perceived a “serious threat” from African swine fever that is sweeping Asia, after Laos reported its first outbreak on June 20.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Deputy Minister Sim Tze Tzin said yesterday that the disease, which has caused almost four million pigs to be culled in Vietnam and China, was spreading rapidly in Southeast Asia.
“Ministry of Agriculture and Department of Veterinary Services have come up with serious plans to combat this disease,” Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Deputy Minister Sim Tze Tzin told the press yesterday.
He added that he will announce a few contingency plans during a visit to a pig farm in Penang this afternoon.
Reuters reported that Thailand will ban pig imports from Laos for 90 days, after Lao authorities reported seven African swine fever outbreaks in the southern province of Saravane, killing 973 pigs.
Besides China and Vietnam, smaller outbreaks have been reported in Cambodia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, North Korea, Mongolia, and now Laos, after African swine fever, which is extremely contagious and fatal for pigs but harmless to humans, was first reported in northeast China last August.
Vietnam was reportedly the hardest hit country in the epidemic, culling at least 2.6 million pigs, followed by China that culled over 1.1 million hogs.
Al Jazeera quoted an epidemiologist from the City University of Hong Kong as saying that the current African swine fever outbreak was the biggest animal disease outbreak in history.