IPOH, June 7 -- Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Sim Tze Tzin today assured Malaysians that locally-bred pigs are free of the African Swine Flu (ASF) virus that has swept China and several neighbouring South-east Asian countries.
However, he advised local pig farmers to remain alert and adopt strict biosecurity measures and agricultural practices to avoid their herds becoming victims of the virus fatal to all swine, The Star Online reported.
“Farmers are the last defence. If they don’t take preventive measures, there could be an outbreak,” he was quoted as saying.
No human has died from ASF, discovered 100 years ago in Kenya and which has since devastated pig livestock worldwide.
China, said to breed more than half the world’s supply of pigs, has been forced to cull 1.2 million swine to date to curb the infection, according to media reports, raising future porcine stock prices worldwide.
Vietnam too has fallen prey to ASF and Thailand is on red alert, British paper The Guardian reported, adding that experts fear outbreaks in Myanmar, the Philippines and Laos.
Sim said Thailand served as a buffer zone for Malaysia and he did not see the disease reaching Malaysia, as the country did not import a lot of pork products apart from canned meat.
He also added Malaysia had banned the import of piglets from Vietnam following the outbreak there and stressed that the smugglers who bring in pork products from affected countries will face stern action.
“Once the country is affected, we have to spend a lot of money to cull the pigs, veterinarians will be deployed to solve the problem and (there will be) compensation to a lot of people.
“Now is the time to safeguard and protect our borders,” he was quoted as saying.
Sim said the ASF outbreak would affect both pork prices and the livelihood of local farmers.
He advised Malaysians not to visit pig farms, as the virus can stay on clothes for seven days, or bring back any pork products from affected countries.
The daily also reported Federation of Livestock Farmers’ Associations of Malaysia president Datuk Jeffrey Ng Choon Ngee as assuring Malaysians that local breeders have taken measures to protect the domestic pork supply.
“Farmers are taking measures to prevent outbreaks and Malaysian local pork products are safe,” he was quoted as saying.