The Animal Health and Production Division in the Ministry of Agriculture has put in place a strategic plan to prevent the African Swine Fever from entering our shores since the deadly pig disease reached the Dominican Republic and Haiti in the Caribbean Region.
Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Kathian Hackshaw of the Animal Health and Production Division revealed that the African swine fever is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease affecting both domestic and wild swine of all ages. It affects the circulatory system of pigs. Like Ebola – transmission of the disease is associated with close contact with bodily fluids and with blood.
It can spread by live or dead pigs, pork products, contaminated feed and objects or materials which are likely to carry infection such as shoes, clothes, and unsanitary farm equipment.
According to the Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Kathian Hackshaw, there is need for all livestock farmers and the general public to know some important information about this deadly disease.
The Chief Vet emphasized that the disease DOES NOT EXIST in St. Vincent and the Grenadines neither does it present a threat to human health.
However, the disease affects animal welfare, causing serious economic and production losses, livestock death and danger to food security resulting in loss of livelihood.
Dr. Hackshaw further noted that the virus:
• Survives in meat for several months at 4°C.
• Survives in carcasses for up to 6 months (or more if frozen).
• Survives in skin fat for 300 days.
• Survives in salted dried meat for up to 120 days.
• Survives in ham in brine for up to 180 days.
• Survives in frozen meat and meat products indefinitely.
If an outbreak occurs in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, it would wreak havoc on the pig population with negative effects on food security, as pork is one of the largest consumed animal proteins.
Meanwhile, the staff of the Animal Health and Production Division is on high alert for suspected pork products from virus-infected countries, 100 per cent quarantine checks at wharves and airports, a ban on new import licenses from affected countries where applicable, applications of all available quarantine laws and increase pig farmers awareness to keep this deadly disease out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Caribbean Region has been monitoring the outbreak and spread of African swine fever over the last 3 years.
In recent times, the outbreak had spread to the pig population in China causing millions of dollars in loss to the industry and to the economy; there have been outbreaks in Africa, in the European Union and recently in Germany.