THE Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry has raised the alarm on the outbreak of the deadly pig virus, the African swine flu, which is sweeping across the Omusati Region and has killed 48 pigs today alone.
Omusati State Veterinarian, Dr Peter Josephat, today told Informanté that from 13 March to 23 April 2020, farmers came forward with reports of their pigs mysteriously dying.
Dr. Josephat stated that last week, a farmer reported that 6 piglets died while their mother was in a critical condition.
He added that samples were collected from the mother pig, and on 25 April, results confirmed that the pigs had African swine flu.
Dr. Josephat stated that the disease does not affect humans and is an old disease which also affects livestock in other major livestock markets in Europe, as well as America.
The virus does not have a vaccine and there is no treatment for it either.
Although the virus only affects pigs, Dr. Josephat warned people against consuming meat from sick or dead pigs as there may mutate when ingested by humans.
He added that the virus has a high mortality rate and can kill an entire enclosure within a week and thus can cause great economic hardships for farmers.
Dr. Josephat stated that the virus has spread to a number of constituencies which include Outapi, Anamulenge, Tsandi, Ohongo, and Okalongo.
From these constituencies, more than 21 villages have been affected.
He added that 40 pigs are currently sick from the virus, while a total of 48 pigs reportedly died on 28 April.
In addition, a total of 195 pigs came into contact with the infected animals and will have to be put down as the virus is highly contagious without any cure.
Symptoms of the African Swine flu in pigs include weakness of body, loss in apatite, swaying gait, red or blue skin discolouration on abdomen, ears, feet and tail, as well as bleeding from eyes and ears after death.
Other symptoms include fast breathing, as well as shivering and grouping of piglets in pens and the presence of ticks on the bodies of pigs.
Dr. Josephat stated that the African swine flu is transmitted to domestic pigs from warthogs and wild pigs, which mostly come into contact with the domestic animals when they are on heat.
As part of its preventative measures to avoid further spread of the virus, the agriculture ministry has advised farmers to report sick pigs, and separating sick pigs from the rest of the pen.
In addition, farmers have been advised to dip and wash their pigs in different solutions mixed with water to wash the ticks off the animals.
Farmers have also been cautioned against transporting pigs from the affected areas and avoid hunting pig meat from unknown sources.