African Swine Suspected in Eastern Myanmar

By Nyein Nyein 7 August 2019

YANGON—More than 2,000 pigs have been culled in Mong La Special Region 4’s Silu and Maing Ma regions in the eastern Shan State of Myanmar as of Wednesday, after nearly 500 pigs died from what is suspected to be the African swine fever earlier this month.

“We are currently doing contagious pig disease control in the region,” said U Kyi Myint, secretary of the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA).

He told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that this year’s incident is the largest they’ve seen. Previous incidences reportedly saw between 400 and 500 pigs die, at which point pigs were culled and buried to prevent the disease’s further spread.

Officials from Mong La Special Region 4, which is under the control of the NDAA, made a public announcement about the danger of African swine fever to the pigs on Aug. 2.

“At the moment, the neighboring country [China] and our region are experiencing the African swine fever,” the Mong La Region Administrative Committee said in a statement last Friday, warning residents “not to trade any pig meat and not to eat frozen meat, bacon, ham or sausage” so that the disease’s spread could be contained.

The committee urged residents to cull and bury infected pigs and to spray insecticide.

“[The disease] is quickly transmitted between pigs, though it cannot infect people. We have to be careful,” U Kyi Myint said. “We saw in the news that in Tachileik the dead pigs were just floating in the stream. This is not good, and it could lead to the further spread of the disease.”

He said the ill pigs were mostly found in the Silu Region, which is close to Mong Yan Township, while Maing Ma, at the north of Mong La, saw some cases as well, and that the pigs were killed and insecticide was sprayed.

Cases of African swine fever were first found in China

Thousands of pigs dead in eastern Shan State 

Separately, some 250 kilometers south of Mong La an estimated 2,000 pigs from 12 villages in Tachileik and Monghpyak, in eastern Shan State, have died since mid-July.

The Union government responded by sending diagnostic teams to the Tachileik District, as well as to Mong La Special Region 4, to confirm whether it is the African swine fever or not.

U Kyi Myint said the NDAA is working with Union officials from a contagious disease control unit in Keng Tung Township that arrived in Mong La on Tuesday.

U Khin Maung Tint, the Shan State lawmaker for Tachileik constituency 2, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that within the last 18 days an estimated 2,000 domestic pigs from Mong Hae Village tracts in Tachileik Township and Bo Shee Village tracts in Monghpyak Township had died.

The lawmaker performed outreach with officials from the Administrative Department and the Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department (LBVD) to 12 villages on Saturday, Aug. 3.

Public attention rose after some 20 dead pigs were found floating in Loi Sone Stream, in Tachileik, on Monday, Aug. 5. LBVD officials retrieved and buried the pigs.

The department has urged people to bury dead pigs rather than throw them into waterways, according to Dr. Kyaw Kyaw Soe, assistant director of the Tachileik LBVD.

Villagers’ main income in the area comes from agriculture and livestock breeding; because the livestock they breed are able to roam freely, the disease was easily spread.

“When we arrived in the villages last week, the residents had already thrown dead pigs into the streams. We have told them to bury them,” said U Khin Maung Tint.

Some residents, he said, had already sold ill pigs to be slaughtered at discounted prices, with some headed to Loas.

U Khin Maung Tint told The Irrawaddy that in some of the 12 villages he visited along the Tadchileik-Monghpyak Road, entire villages worth of pigs had died. Villagers estimated the deaths to be in the thousands.

First Africa swine fever in Myanmar? 

The Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Ministry has not confirmed whether the pigs are in fact plagued by Africa swine fever yet. Serum samples have been taken and tested in Yangon but the results have yet to returned, according to Dr. Tun Lwin, assistant secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation.

He said the department would release the result as soon as they became available.

“If they are positive for African swine fever, it would be the first case of it in Myanmar,” he said.

Myanmar has been raising awareness of African swine fever as a preventive measure and to help control its possible outbreak, he said.

“We put priority on awareness raising in the border areas as the neighboring countries are experiencing the disease.”

Preventive measures are ongoing, he said, with specialized teams sent to affected regions.

“Where it includes the special administrative zone [of Wa and Mong La], we are coordinating with the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre (NRPC) to send our disease diagnosis team,” he said.

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