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Minister Warns PRRS May Cause Pork Shortages

by 5m Editor
20 May 2010, at 10:55am

VIET NAM - The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Cao Duc Phat, has urged northern Bac Giang province to clamp down on blue ear pig disease (porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome; PRRS) to minimise the risk of pig meat shortages.

After inspecting the situation in the province, which has the third largest number of pigs in the country, the Minister said that there were indications the disease was being contained. However, he urged local authorities to remain vigilant, according to an official source.

Blue-ear disease has broken out in 21 communes in Yen Dung, Hiep Hoa and Luc Ngan districts and Bac Giang City, where more than 3,300 out of Bac Giang Province's 1.1 million pigs have been infected. So far, 800 pigs have been culled, while nearly 1,500 have recovered.

To prevent the epidemic from spreading, provincial authorities have disinfected farms and breeding facilities, banned the transport and trade of sick pigs and vaccinated local animals against the disease, according to Hoang Dang Huyen, head of the provincial department of animal health.

He said: "Local inspectors have conducted regular checks and given advice on prevention and control in communes. In addition, 45 quarantine stations have been set up across the province to prevent the transport of infected pigs.

"One of the reasons the disease has spread is that some pig breeders have not informed relevant agencies about their sick pigs and try to sell them or dump them instead.

"Therefore, local authorities have increased information dissemination to raise public awareness about prevention and control."

The disease has affected 15 provinces and cities, where more than 50,000 pigs have been infected.

Pork shortages may plague domestic market soon after a large number of farmers stopped raising pigs in response to the blue ear outbreak that has been hitting the country's northern provinces.

Economist Pham Quang Dieu of Viet Nam Market Forecast and Analysis Joint Stock Co. said that farmers have been turning to the blue ear outbreak. The decrease in pork production would cause a shortfall in supply.

Many pig farms in southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau and central Binh Phuoc are on the market because many farmers do not have the financial capacity to maintain their operations.

Tran Van Hac, a business manager for pork products at CP Co, said about 90 per cent of small-sized pig breeding households would suspend their operations after this epidemic.

The outbreak needs to be controlled soon in order to avoid the inflation of poultry, beef and seafood prices, Mr Dieu said.

Economists said if the Government does not implement policies for the domestic breeding industry soon, then the market will be flooded with imported meat soon.

HCM City Animal Health Division and HCM City Department of Agriculture and Rural Development held a meeting on 19 May to discuss ways to prevent blue ear disease from entering into pig farms in the city.

Central and neighbouring provinces have reported many cases of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), commonly known as blue ear disease, but so far it has not broken out in HCM City.

Phan Xuan Thao, head of HCM City Animal Health Division, said: "There is a major risk of an epidemic outbreak in the city because the transportation of pigs into and through the city hasn't been properly monitored recently."

Poor hygiene at a lot of pig farms in the city was a major risk factor, so local veterinary officials and authorities of the city's 24 districts were advised to strictly control pig transportation. Trucks that carry animals to other provinces via HCM City were also a matter of concern.

According to the director of HCM City Animal Health Division, the city has about 29 abattoirs. He suggested more slaughter house inspections, focusing on the smaller businesses.

He said a recent regular inspection of 18 large farms had uncovered no blue disease but an outbreak at poorly run smaller pig farms could easily spread.

Further Reading

- Find out more information on porcine reproductive respiratory syndrome (PRRS) by clicking here.