Photographer's Note

Today, I begin a set of postings regarding the current epidemic that had spread to the major pig farming area in central Vietnam where my maternal district of Phú Vang is included. Many of my relatives who live within the affected area are earning their daily meal by herding pigs. Attacked by this swine plague, they were driven into dead-end. I am offering this set of notes to them and to those who are in need, to realize which actions they must take rather than redeeming the situation by consumption of the live-stock that has already been infected. If you have the updated or additional news & info about the topic, please contribute. Thanks.

This photo has recently been shot in Thừa Lưu Market and it is posted here for illustration only. These piglets are not infected and the activities in my photo are normal.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development on July 14 sent a telegram asking provinces not to transport pigs and pig products out of infected areas and set up quarantine check-points.

According to the telegram, since June 25, the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), or blue ear disease, occurred in 50 communes of 8 districts in central Quang Nam provinces. As many as 16,000 pigs were infected and 700 of them died. (Source)

To deal with a possible epidemic actively, those responsible for controlling the disease must be determined to kill all pigs with blue ear so that it cannot spread. The flip side of this, is that illegal slaughterhouses and businesses will shut their doors if they see an inspector anywhere in the vicinity.

Inspectors need a warrant before searching a farm or business premises, but it takes a long time to get one because of all the paperwork and other formalities. Moreover, some farmers are banking on big profits from the reduced supply of pork, but only if their animals are lucky enough not to contract the disease.

In Long An Province, inspectors found a diseased pig among four that had just been taken to a slaughterhouse in Can Giuoc District. They killed all four pigs immediately and the Long An Department of Animal Health penalized a local vet for failing to spot the sick animal.

For some reasons, blue ear seems to be less of a problem in Central Viet Nam. Quang Nam’s Department of Animal Health says only 2,119 diseased pigs have been found in the province, and only in four districts - Duy Xuyen, Dien Ban, Que Son and Thang Binh. (Source)

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that people can catch blue ear disease from pigs. Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Bui Ba Bong said. Bong said it was safe to eat pork at unaffected sites and pig products meeting food sanitation and safety standards.

As part of efforts to control diseases among livestock, the Government was providing nearly US$1.6 million to the provinces of Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien - Hue and Da Nang City to combat blue ear disease in pigs. Blue-ear is under control in the worst-hit Quang Nam and Da Nang. In Quang Nam only 2,100 pigs remain infected, a drop of 90% from the peak period in mid-July. However, the blue ear was different to another infection afflicting pigs in the country, streptococcus suis.

Although the disease had not become an outbreak in the country, a report released last week by the Institute of Clinical Medicine and Tropical Diseases revealed 26 people had contracted it, two of whom had died. Initial investigations shown that more than 70% of patients infected with streptococcus suis had contact with pig's blood, either by eating it or in slaughtering the animals. There is hitherto no evidence to suggest the infection could spread from human to human.

As part of efforts to combat the disease, the Ministry of Health has urged farmers not to slaughter sick animals or use their corpses as animal feed, with all culling done under strict regulations. The ministry has also warned traders not to buy and sell pork without authorized certification of origin or quarantine. Although very rare in humans, if contracted streptococcus suis can cause meningitis, septicaemia or even toxic shock syndrome.

After three incidents of blue ear disease were reported last week in Can Giuoc District, authorities in Long An Province on Wednesday declared it an infected area. Deputy director of Long An's Agriculture and Rural Development Dept, said animal health workers had disinfected affected farms and culled unquarantined pigs on Tuesday. About 100 infected pigs have died or been destroyed by the workers. (Source)


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Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 471 W: 125 N: 2332] (8458)
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