Deputy minister warns pig farmers not to cover up African swine fever cases

Opalyn Mok
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Sim Tze Tzin (left) with Department of Veterinary Services director-general Datuk Dr Quaza Nizamuddin Hassan Nizam during their visit to the KB Wong and Brothers Farm pig farm in Valdor, Sungai Bakap, June 24, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

SEBERANG PRAI, June 24 — The government today told pig farmers to report any African swine fever (ASF) outbreak instead of covering it up.

Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Deputy Minister Sim Tze Tzin said the farmers must immediately report it to the authorities if they suspected ASF.

“They must not slaughter the sick pig and sell it, they must immediately report it to the Department of Veterinary Services,” he said in a press conference after visiting, KB Wong and Brothers Farm, one of Penang’s largest pig farms in Valdor here.

He said just one or two ASF cases can cripple the whole RM5 billion pig farming and related products industry in the country.

He said pig farmers may want to cover up to protect themselves, but told them this will come with serious repercussions.

“We will take very serious action on this, so let me warn all farmers to never do this and think of the country and the industry,” he said.

He reminded farmers of the Nipah virus outbreak that hit the country 20 years ago, which resulted in 265 cases of acute encephalitis with 105 human deaths and had crippled the pig farming industry.

He said the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) already has a contingency plan in case of an outbreak here.

“So we will put it into motion to control the spread of the virus if farmers immediately report to us any suspected cases,” he said.

He said a table-top simulation on ASF was held in February to prepare the relevant government departments and agencies for the contingency plan.

He said Thailand was now the last “buffer” from affected countries, so Malaysia has to be extra vigilant.

“We want to make sure ASF doesn’t spread to Malaysia because it spread like wildfire in six major Asian countries in less than a year,” he said.

As at June 20, ASF has spread to China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, North Korea and Laos.

Laos reported the ASF outbreak in seven farms in Saravane on June 20.

Malaysia has over 600 farms, including those in Sabah and Sarawak, with about 1.5 million pigs.

Sim said Malaysia is self-sustaining as local pig supplies make up 93 per cent of the pork in the market.

Due to ASF, the country now bans the import of pork and pig products from China, Poland, Belgium, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

The DVS has conducted clinical surveillance in pig farms in eight states and found no signs of ASF as of now.

Sim said the Department of Wildlife and National Parks have also sampled 46 wild boars in seven states in the peninsula and all tested negative for ASF.

Related Articles Let us meet and discuss first, Chow said on convent schools’ closure Penang school pupils’ inventions win international awards Chow: Penang pilots biogas production from food waste