Tanzania: ASF Hits Three Other Regions

TANZANIA - The African Swine Fever (ASF) has now spread to three Tanzania mainland regions, latest reports show.
calendar icon 8 May 2008
clock icon 4 minute read

According to AllAfrica, the disease is one of the three most dreaded epidemics for pigs.

According to experts, ASF is dangerous because of its highly infectious nature, variety of means of spreading, high morbidity rate, high mortality rate and lack of a specific treatment or vaccine.

According to reports from various pig keeping areas in Coast, Morogoro and Dar es Salaam regions, hundreds of pigs are perishing, as the government's efforts to curb the disease seem to fail.

The reports say pig keepers tend to ignore measures set out by the government, including a quarantine. They usually sell their animals through black markets in urban areas, especially Dar es Salaam. Hundreds of pigs are said to be transported everyday from Morogoro and Coast regions to Dar es Salaam.

This is done so stealthily that government authorities are not aware of the malpractice. It has been established that most traders ferrying live pigs from rural areas offload them between Mbezi and Kimara fearing arrest.

Pig traders who spoke to this paper in Dar es Salaam said the current rains have made it easy for the ASF virus to spread because most pigs are reared traditionally. "I have lost five pigs over the last two weeks," said Mr Rodrick Massawe, a pork shop owner at Ubungo.

The ASF spread has also affected the supply of pigs in Dar es Salaam region, and some pork traders have taken advantage of the scarcity to increase its prices.

A survey by this paper in various areas has established that one kilogramme of pork is sold for up to Sh4,200 from previous maximum of Sh3,600.

According to the directorate of veterinary services at the Ministry of Livestock Development, more than 300 pigs died by early last month.

However, a senior official at the ministry said the actual number of deaths has not yet been established due to its surveillance. "I think there might be many deaths.

People have been reluctant to listen to the advice they get from our anti-ASF strategy," said an official who did not, however, want to be named.

According to the official, the government is also working closely with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to obtain Elisa Kits for regular checks of the disease. "You know FAO are very slow to respond, but I am sure that it is going to work soon," the official said.

Pig rearers who spoke to this paper through the telephone said they have lost hope economically as the disease swept most of their stocks.

The official said the emergence of the disease would affect pig rearing in many districts in eastern Tanzania.

The fast spread of ASF is due to its highly contagious nature and ability to persist in a protein environment, including meat products, for long periods.

Since no vaccine exists, the ministry says, the only means of control is by slaughtering the pigs. Avoiding this would lead to clandestine movement of potentially infected pigs.

The ASF was first reported in Tanzania (then Tanganyika) in 1914. Another outbreak followed in 1962; yet the years 1963-1972 registered no incidents, Veterinary Department reports show.

According to them, in May 2001 ASF was reported in Dar es Salaam because of an increased pig population for commercial purposes.

View the AllAfrica story by clicking here.

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