March 28, 2020 - 2778 views

By Glenda Popot

The multi-million pork industry in PNG is now under threat with the African Swine Fever now in the country.

The Swine Fever is a virus which causes a hemorrhagic fever with high mortality rates in domestic pigs, killing pigs in large numbers as quickly as a week after infection.

Found in Mendi, Southern Highlands Province, it’s believed the disease was transported through carriers, including imported canned food.

Southern Highlands and its neighbouring provinces of Enga and Hela have now been declared disease areas as of today, as a containment measure by NAQIA as it works to stop its spread down to other highlands provinces and the coast.

The announcement made today by Agriculture Minister John Simon comes amidst efforts by the government to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

The virus was suspected when a large number of pigs in Mendi, 336, died in February, and samples were taken by an investigation team from NAQIA and sent to Australia with results returning positive.

Prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus, the country was on red alert to prevent the African swine flu from entering the country.

Minister Simon says while efforts were made by NAQIA to put stringent measures at the points of entry into the country, especially the country’s borders, the emergence of the African swine flu in Mendi, came a surprise to NAQIA.

This raises the biggest question of how it enters Mendi, with a team of NAQIA inspectors to travel to Mendi to establish where the virus came from.

People in the three provinces are urged not to eat dead pigs or bring pigs or pig meat from one province to another as they will be checked at roadblocks.

Although the virus is not a public health threat, it will greatly affect most people who depend on pigs as a source of food and income, but more importantly to the whole pork industry in PNG.


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