Suspected African Swine Fever kills 600 pigs in Kitgum, all infected pork eaten

Suspected African Swine Fever kills pigs in Kitgum
An epidemic of African swine fever (ASF), a lethal viral hemorrhagic disease of swine, is devastating pig production in Kitgum, northern Uganda.

Kitgum, Uganda | URN | Kitgum district veterinary department through its veterinary extension programme intends to embark on educating pig farmers in the district on proper management of pigs amidst fear of an outbreak of suspected African Swine Fever [ASF].

More than 600 pigs have reportedly died in the villages of Bajere, Bajere East, Bajere South, Okwici East and Oget in Labongo Akwang sub-county since October  when the strange disease was first reported according to local leaders.

The incident has created panic and left many pig farmers in the affected areas counting heavy losses.

This also prompted the Veterinary department last week to send out its extension workers to investigate the death of the pigs.

Alfred Kinyera, Kitgum District Veterinary Officer told this publication in an interview that preliminary reports from symptoms described by farmers link the death of the pigs to the deadly African Swine Fever.

Kinyera says the district has come up with a contingency plan to train pig farmers in the affected areas for an early preparation to manage the current infection in case test samples from infected pigs turn out positive for ASF.

“We found that pigs actually died in the area, the symptoms the farmers reported is close to African Swine Fever but we haven’t yet got any pig that has freshly died, we got one that died two days earlier and the pork had been sold off,” says Kinyera.

He notes that the team is actively combing the area to pick samples from infected or dead pigs for testing at the Uganda Virus Research Institute [UVRI] Entebbe adding that they earlier failed to pick samples because the infested pigs were being sold off.

According to Kinyera, the training which will kick off Wednesday will entail management of pigs’ movement and their confinement in a sty to avoid further risk of infection spreading to other health pigs within Labongo Akwang and the neighboring sub-counties.

Richard Otema, the area Chairperson for Okwici East village told this publication that many pigs are still continuing to die from the strange disease that broke out in December last year.

He says many pig farmers who solely earn their living from pig rearing are currently counting losses and faulted the late intervention of the district veterinary department.

“In December last year, there was an outbreak of pig disease in my area, I got reports from most farmers, and personally I witnessed how it affects the pigs, the infected pigs present with symptoms of dizziness and saliva dripping from their mouth and within a short time, the pigs die. We haven’t got any help from the government or NGOs to eradicate this disease which is still within the community…”

Denis Opoka, a pig farmer in Bajere South village says he lost a total of five pigs, a sow, and four piglets to the disease early last month.

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He also reiterated that the intervention of the district veterinary department has been too slow despite reports made to the sub-county veterinary officials which would have helped to curb the spread of the disease early.

Should the test samples picked by the veterinary personnel turn out positive, there will a total ban on movement, sale, or even consumption of pigs within the affected areas in Labongo Akwang Sub-county according to veterinary officials.

African Swine Fever is a highly contagious haemorrhagic disease of pigs caused by a virus. It presents with symptoms of loss of appetite in pigs, red skin colors, vomiting, diarrhea, and body weakness among others.