Farmers in Samfya district of Luapula Province have lost 2,320 pigs to the deadly African swine fever.
Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries livestock officer Mudenda Chipwaya confirmed this to the National Agricultural Information Services (NAIS) in an interview.
Chipwaya said the disease was suspected to have come from the neighbouring district where there were human-animal conflicts.
“We suspect the disease came from Luwingu District where the chief banned the free range rearing of pigs and then the farmers from that side started bringing and selling the pigs in Samfya where that ban was not in effect that’s how the disease came here,” Chipwaya said.
“We have lost quite a number of pigs in Kasaba veterinary camp and at the moment, the disease has spread to other two veterinary camps that is Mwewa and Lubwe respectively where 2,320 pigs have died so far and the population at risk is over 3000 pigs.”
And District Veterinary Officer (DVO) Dr Kenneth Chawinga explained that the disease was caused by a viral infection and it spread rapidly through movement and handling of infected live pigs.
“The disease causes 90 to 100 percent deaths of pigs in affected areas which deprives farmers of the much needed income,” Dr Chawinga said.
“The free range rearing of pigs has contributed in that if the pigs were housed then someone accessing them would be able to get foot baths were the pathogens can be gotten rid of.”
He expressed confidence that Samfya would soon contain the spread of African swine fever due to the lack of warthogs in the district.
“The advantage that we have here is that we will soon control the spread of the disease because the transmission cycle is maintained between warthogs and the domestic pigs, we have a tick called soft tick that gets the virus from the warthogs when it has its blood sucked and then transmits it to domestic pigs which means that when the infected pigs dies out we will have no reservoir and the disease will be contained,” said Dr Chawinga.
Meanwhile, Senior Chief Kalasamukoso of the Nakabende speaking people assured the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries that he would engage his people to help fight the spread of the disease from his chiefdom.
Senior Chief Kalasamukoso also asked government to take interest in training people on how to rear livestock in the area.
“As you may be aware keeping of livestock is central to our livelihood therefore I would like to say that government should also look at how it can help our people in building fences and shelters for our livestock so that such diseases can be avoided,” said Senior Chief Kalasamukoso.
The Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries has since banned the movement of pigs and pig products as well as the sale of pork products in all supermarkets, butcheries, restaurants as well as public places in order to stop the spread of African Swine Fever in Luapula Province.
The ban comes after confirmed cases of African swine fever were reported in Kasaba, Mwewa and Lubwe veterinary camps and the subsequent spread to Mubende Veterinary Camp of Mwense District due to suspected movement of pigs and pork products.
In light of this, the Department of Veterinary Services and Tsetse Control in the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock of Luapula Province has invoked the provisions of the Animal Health Act number 27 of 2017, Section 6, Sub section 1 (a) and has hence forth banned indefinitely the movement and sale of pigs and pig products.