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Mashonaland Central has been hit by African swine fever that has killed more than 600 pigs, the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) has said. The disease was last reported in 1992 in Beitbridge.
Currently it is confined to free ranging pigs, but can easily spread into commercial pig units if adequate control measures are not put in place.
In an interview on Thursday, DVS director, Dr Josphat Nyika said the disease had affected Mukumbura and Foya villages of Mt Darwin along the Mozambican border.
“African swine fever has killed more than 600 pigs, in a period of two months. The disease has slowly been spreading to nearby villages in the Dande Valley, mainly through trading in infected meat and movement of infected pigs,” he said.
Dr Nyika said control measures instituted by the DVS to prevent further spread of the disease included a quarantine order or ban on movement of all pigs and pig products from Mt Darwin.
The department has engaged other stakeholders such as Pig Producers Association of Zimbabwe and Pig Industry Board in the fight against African swine fever.
“We are grateful to PIB who chipped in with $5 000 from the Pig Levy Fund to assist in controlling the disease.
“All pig farmers have been instructed to confine their pigs to prevent contact with infected pigs. Awareness campaigns are currently on-going in the affected and neighbouring villages with farmers being advised to burn and bury pig carcasses as these act as a source of infection to health pigs.
“Farmers are advised to report any unusual high mortality to root-out the deadly disease. A 24 hour roadblock, manned by police and veterinary personnel has been mounted on the only major outlet road from the infected area to prevent the movement of pigs and pig products,” he said
Dr Nyika said to date about 80 kilogrammes of infected meat coming from the infected area had been confiscated and burnt at the roadblock.
He advised farmers to register all commercial pig units and have good bio-security measures in place to arrest the disease.
African swine fever is a fatal viral disease that affects pigs of all ages, transmitted by soft ticks from wild pigs which are the reservoirs of infection.
The disease can spread among domestic pigs through direct contact or through contaminated objects like vehicles and instruments.
It is characterised by high morbidity and mortality of up to 100 percent.
There is no cure or vaccine for the disease.by Elita Chikwati- Source-bulawayo24