FMARD hints on Contigency Plan for the Control and Prevention of African Swine Fever

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said it has developed a contingency plan for the control and prevention of African Swine Fever in the country. This was disclosed by Dr Olaniran Alabi,  the Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria, during an online knowledge update conference on zoom organised by Veterinary Council of Nigeria and which was monitored by Livestonews on 15th June 2020.

Dr Alabi stated that African swine fever has been ravaging the pig industry over the years since the first outbreak in the country in 1973.  “We have a lot of problems that have been hampering the control and prevention of African swine fever in the country. These problems include lack of a comprehensive contingency plan for the control and prevention of the disease, lack of funding for surveillance and compensation of farmers during outbreaks, and late reporting of the disease by farmers and veterinarians on the field. I am happy to inform you that we have now put in place a comprehensive contingency plan that when implemented, it will be useful in controlling the spread of the virus and preventing future outbreaks”.

The chief veterinary officer applauded the Veterinary council of Nigeria under the leadership of Dr Aishatu Abubakar Baju for putting together such a knowledge refreshing conference on African Swine fever that is currently ravaging pigs farms across the country.

In his lecture titled African Swine Fever; what Veterinarians need to know, Dr O.O. Omotosho of the swine unit, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Ibadan said African Swine fever is the most deadly disease of pigs that has no vaccination and treatment. “The current outbreak is the major outbreak in the last 12 years. We have not experienced such loses since the first outbreak of the disease in 1973”.

Dr Omotosho gave a breakdown of states affected by the virus which includes all states in the South West with Lagos as the epicenter of the disease. At Oke-Aro pig settlement located on the boundary of Lagos and Ogun states covering about 10 acres housing 3,000 farmers, about 300,000 pigs died on this farm in one day representing a revenue loss of about 1.2 billion Naira. Statistics made available indicates that Edo, Delta, Imo states are worst hit aside Lagos and Ogun because they buy pigs from Lagos on almost daily basis.

The swine medicine practitioner stated that efforts that have been made in the past years to produce a vaccine against the virus did not yield much positive result because antibodies produced by the vaccines could not neutralise viral load in the infected pigs. He said all hope is not lost however as so much work is currently being done in many countries to bring about a potent vaccine against the disease. He lamented that practices such as indiscriminate importation and exportation of pigs and pig products, inadequate biosecurity measures on farms, slaughtering and sale of pigs by farmers, and indiscriminate movement of pigs within the country have further aided the spread of the disease. Keeping of pigs that survived African Swine Fever by farmers is one of the greatest hindrances in the eradication of the disease as such pigs remain carriers and transmitters of the virus to other pigs. The swine expert recommended total slaughter and burying of affected herds as the major effective means of controlling the outbreak at hand and preventing future outbreaks.

In his remarks, the director Veterinary services Lagos state, Dr Macauley Rasheed stated that lack of compensation for farmers is the major hindrance to ensuring elimination of affected herds which is the most effective way of controlling the spread of the virus at the moment. “We are decontaminating the Oke Aro farm settlement and providing biosecurity measures for farmers in other settlements. But this is not enough, as survival pigs pose a great risk of bringing about future outbreaks”. Dr Rasheed called on government to make available funding for compensation of farmers during outbreaks.

The online knowledge update conference is the first in the series organised by Veterinary council of Nigeria and was held on zoom at 3pm on Monday, 15th June, 2020. LIVESTONEWS.

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