GUWAHATI: India's first instance of African Swine Flu has been detected in the state of Assam and which has already killed around 2,500 pigs across 306 villages in seven districts. The state Government on Sunday said that despite a go-ahead from the Centre, it will not resort to culling of the pigs immediately and will adopt an alternate mechanism to prevent the spread of the highly contagious disease.
Assam Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Minister Atul Bora said at a press conference on Sunday ,that the disease has no relation at all with COVID-19. "The National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal, has confirmed that it is African Swine Flu (ASF). The central government has informed us that it is the first instance of the disease in the country," Bora said.
As per a 2019 census by the department, the pig population was 21 lakh, but it has increased in recent times to around 30 lakh, he added.
"We have discussed with experts if we can save the pigs without culling them. The death percentage of the pigs affected by the disease is almost 100 per cent. So we have made some strategies to save the pigs, which are not affected by the virus," Bora said.
The department will collect samples within one-km radius of the infected area and test them, he said.
The further testing will be done in Assam itself in three labs here, but these will not be sufficient and officials concerned have been asked to contact the Health Department for this, he added.
"The virus spreads through pig's meat, saliva, blood and tissue. So there will be no transportation of pigs between districts. We will also check what can be done to the pigs passing through our state.
"The disease was detected during the last part of February. However, it started in April 2019 in China at a village of Xizang province bordering Arunachal Pradesh. It is suspected that the disease crossed over to Arunachal Pradesh and then reached Assam," Bora said.
Usually pigs roaming freely are infected, but of late, those in the farms are also seen affected, he added. "However, it never affects humans. There is no problem in consuming pork from the areas where there is no infection. We will conduct awareness and training of farmers. We have selected 13 districts for this purpose," the minister claimed.
When asked about compensating the farmers incurring losses, Bora said, "Farmers have been affected. We are assessing the total damage. We will see the provisions from the disaster management authorities and compensate them accordingly." (With inputs from PTI)