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Mexico bans Dominican Republic pork over ASF fears

4 August 2021, at 2:00am

Mexico's agriculture ministry said on Tuesday that pork and derived products from the Dominican Republic and other countries affected by outbreaks of African swine fever are banned from entering Mexico.

According to Reuters, Mexican officials will X-ray all baggage coming into the country from the Dominican Republic to detect "products of risk" and carefully destroy any such items, the ministry added in a statement.

Mexico activates Comprehensive Biosafety plan due to ASF threat

The Government of Mexico, through the Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development, the National Service of Agri-Food Health, Safety and Quality (Senasica) and federal agencies, in close coordination with the Organization of Mexican Pig Farmers (Opormex) and international organizations, put The Comprehensive Biosafety Program under way to protect the country from the presence of African swine fever (ASF) in the Dominican Republic.

The plan consists of reinforcing the mechanisms of prevention, detection and control of the threat of ASF entry, through health intelligence work, review of animal health requirements and biocontainment measures and strengthening inspection in ports, airports and borders, with more than a thousand specialized technicians and 112 canine pairs from Senasica.

In a virtual working meeting with pig farmers, the Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development, Víctor Villalobos Arámbula, affirmed that the coordinated work on health issues and our technical, organizational and infrastructure strengths will prevent this pandemic, which, being in the Dominican Republic, activated alerts for the entire continent.

This is an emergency, in a context in which a human health crisis situation is being addressed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we cannot afford to add an additional crisis that would affect the country's productive chain, therefore that it will be necessary to heed the recommendations of the health authorities and assume the responsibility of all those involved.

Víctor Villalobos Arámbula, Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development

He reported that there is full knowledge of the risk posed by the ASF for national pig production, as well as the measures applied by the Ministry of Agriculture - some of them in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) - to implement preventive actions, particularly with migrants from the Dominican Republic and from all nations affected by the disease.

He assured attendees that due to the magnitude of the phenomenon that is present in the Dominican Republic, a joint effort between the two countries is required and there is the professional performance and strength of Senasica and the support of national pig producers and their organizations. As a country, Mexico has the ability to put the necessary preventive measures in place, he added.

Faced with the threat of ASF, the actions and steps to follow have been defined, with the collaboration of all, to maintain fluid communication in real time that allows timely attention to any sign of symptoms, and in the event that a positive diagnosis result occurs on a farm that it communicate the results immediately for a timely, technical assessment, Villalobos indicated.

Actions of the Biosafety Plan to prevent the entry of the ASF into Mexico

With the aim of protecting the national production of pork and its derivatives, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, through the National Service of Health, Safety and Food Quality (Senasica), has reinforced defense mechanisms against entering the national territory of this disease, through three preventive measures:

1. Strengthening of inspection measures in all Sanitary Inspection offices, located in the Customs of all ports, airports and borders of entry to the country:

  • The ban on the entry of pork products and by-products from the Dominican Republic and all countries affected by African swine fever (ASF) is reiterated.
  • The luggage screening of travelers from the affected countries is extreme, in order to prevent them from introducing prohibited products into the country.
  • As of the notification, with the support of the General Administration of Customs of the Tax Administration System, all the luggage that comes from the Dominican Republic goes through the X-ray band, to detect risk products.
  • Sanitary mats are placed for the descent of passengers and crews of ships and airplanes from affected countries.
  • The inspection of kitchens and waste from commercial ships, cruise ships and airplanes is intensified, in order to seal them for their return to the country of origin or to guarantee that they are destroyed properly.
  • All the products that are retained are destroyed with criteria of extreme sanitary security.
  • Activation of a dissemination campaign, so that travelers do not bring risky products to Mexico.

2. We work in coordination with the country's pig farmers, both at the commercial and family production level:

  • A program was launched through which permanent advice is provided to producers in the main swine areas of the country.
  • Producers have been called to join the prevention work and to report in a timely manner the suspicious cases that they detect in their commercial and family production units, and a dissemination campaign on the subject will be activated.
  • More than 2000 technicians, veterinarians, students and producers were trained on the detection of this and other red diseases of pigs.

3. Senasica is in a permanent state of alert for, should the disease enter Mexico, immediately detonate the National Animal Health Emergency Device (DINESA), for its control and rapid eradication.

  • Senasica has installed a network of 21 laboratories nationwide and a central one in Mexico City, some of them perform genomic sequencing to determine the finest part of the agents that enter.
  • The Secretariat has highly qualified personnel for the detection, control and eradication of the disease.
  • In cases of health emergency, Senasica has the support of the National Guard, since it is part of the National Security System.

The chief director of Senasica, Francisco Javier Trujillo Arriaga, told producers that they must be certain that the Agriculture body is engaged in actions to prevent the entry of ASF into the country, and that it has the support from various instances of the Government of Mexico, mainly National Security and those related to the movement of people and goods.

The general director of Animal Health of Senasica, Juan Gay Gutiérrez, explained to the producers the defense barriers that have been activated to protect the country and reported on the technicians and infrastructure that the agency has to deal with zoosanitary emergencies. He was emphatic when he considered that it is essential producers collaborate by increasing security measures on their farms and, above all, immediately reporting to Senasica any suspicion of animals infected with ASF.

The general director of Phytozoosanitary Inspection, José Luis Leyva Vázquez, indicated that the inspection of planes and ships that arrive in Mexico from the Dominican Republic has been reinforced, but also from the cities that can be connected, such as Panama, Miami and Cuba, with greater caution in smaller vessels that reach the marinas, especially the Yucatan peninsula.