African swine fever has been present in north east India at least since January, according to global animal health body, OIE.
The Asian media is now reporting that 14,000 pigs have been culled in one of the two infected states, Assam, alone, with claims the virus might have reached India via a river from China.
The OIE’s official notifications shows a total of 11 outbreaks so far across two states, with 4,199 confirmed cases and 3,701 deaths in pigs, with another 10,920 ‘susceptible’ animals on the affected premises.
The first media reports of outbreaks in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh emerged earlier this month. But the OIE report dates the first three outbreaks in Arunachal Pradesh to January 26. The start dates for the other outbreaks span February, March and April.
It says the origin of the outbreak is ‘unknown or inconclusive’, but the virus is believed to have spread from thousands of carcasses that floated down the tributaries of a river originating in China, the Diplomat reports.
According to media reports, carcasses have been spotted hundreds of miles from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that separates India from China.
Various control measures have been applied in the infected states, including culling all susceptible pigs within 1km of the outbreaks. In most cases, infected pigs died within two to seven days after showing symptoms, like breathing problems, dysentery, high fever, unconsciousness, and vomiting.
Assam’s pig population is estimated at over 2 million, including wild boar and the region consumes as much as 75% of pork produced in the country, according to the Diplomat. Other states in the region are on red alert.
The government has reportedly identified five vulnerable districts in the eastern region of Assam with measures in place to prevent the movement of domestic pigs and possible contact with wild boars. A two-kilometre and six-foot-deep trench has also been dug at the World Heritage Site of Kaziranga National Park to protect wild boars from ASF infection, the report adds.
All the northeastern states in India have asked people, especially owners of pig farms, to stop transporting pigs from other states.
In Arunachal Pradesh, the consumption of pork has been banned after reports were received from the Bhopal-based National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) on samples sent from ten districts in the hill state, the Diplomat report adds.