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Pigs to be culled to combat outbreak

31 August 2007

SOUTH AFRICA - Five thousand pigs from small farms in Caledon, Worcester and Malmesbury will have to be culled during the next few weeks to combat the outbreak of a deadly porcine disease.

But consumers won't have to cross bacon off their shopping lists: the Cape Pork Producers Association says that while the disease poses "no risk whatsoever" to humans, the meat from infected pigs will still not be made commercially available.

The provincial department of agriculture said an outbreak of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (more commonly known as blue ear disease) was first detected at a farm in Klapmuts about two weeks ago.

The veterinary services unit had been monitoring the situation, said Agriculture MEC Cobus Dowry's spokesperson, Alie van Jaarsveld.

Van Jaarsveld said Dowry had met the Pork Producers Association on Tuesday to discuss a way forward. Pigs on about 13 farms were being tested for the disease, and results were expected from the state vet soon.

"We're not sure of the specific strain (of the disease), and we don't want to guess at it," said Van Jaarsveld.

Mike Heramb, chairperson of the Cape Pork Producers Association, said his organisation had met an abattoir to discuss the culling of the pigs, which he hoped would start by the end of next week.

"We're in the process of getting the whole thing on track," said Heramb.

He said the disease was not necessarily fatal to pigs, but that it was devastating for pig farmers, because it affected sows' reproductive systems.

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Source: Independent Online

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