Vietnam scrambles to combat pig epidemic

VIET NAM - The Vietnamese government has provided four central provinces VND25 billion (US$1.55 million) to combat the blue ear disease that has infected thousands of pigs and seems likely to spread south.
calendar icon 4 August 2007
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The worst-hit Quang Nam received VND10 billion, Thua Thien Hue and Quang Ngai VND2 billion each, and Danang VND1 billion.

Blue ear disease, known in medical parlance as Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), hit over 30,000 pigs in these places in the last month.

At a briefing Tuesday, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said it would set up a special task force to lead the fight against the pandemic.

It instructed affected provinces to take drastic measures to contain the epidemic like preventing illicit transport of infected pigs, inoculation, quarantine of infected sites, and slaughter of sick animals.

Failure to adopt these measures would attract strong penalties, it warned.

Deputy Minister Bui Ba Bong told affected provinces to expedite the mass cull of infected pigs and reporting of fresh epidemic zones.

Any cover-ups would be seriously punished, Bong warned.

The Veterinary Bureau announced Tuesday that the streptococcus bacteria, or strep. suis, to which pigs are susceptible, had not spread on a large scale as earlier feared.

The ministry said though the pig epidemic had shown signs of a letup in central provinces, authorities should not become complacent. It could reemerge at any time.

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