Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Already found in areas throughout Burma, the deadly blue ear pig virus has spread to the Taungoo area, according to the Taungoo Township Animal Husbandry and Veterinarian Department.
Dr. Nay Soe said the blue ear pig epidemic has spread to 15 wards and 18 villages in the township. As of April 28, 79 pigs have died and 294 pigs have been infected.
‘Most of the infected pigs here are from small-scale household farming. They are reared in a free range system. So the disease spreads very rapidly’, Nay Soe told Mizzima.
The township animal husbandry and veterinarian department has launched a public awareness campaign and done prevention work in towns and surrounding rural areas, he said. Pig farmers are told how the virus spreads and how to prevent and control the disease.
The disease, which affects the reproductive organs and respiratory tract, was first found in Mandalay Division on February 15. The virus infected pigs in Aungmyetharzan, Chanayetharzan, Mahaaungmye, Chanmyatharzi, Pyigyidagun, Amrapura and Madaya townships and surrounding rural areas. Thousands of pigs died in one month.
It spread quickly to Sagaing, Magway and Naypyitaw divisions, and now to Bago Division. The medicine which can treat the virus is not available in Burma, a senior official from the Naypyitaw animal husbandry department said.
The symptoms of the disease are exhaustion, high fever, loss of appetite and the colour of an infected pig’s ears turn blue. An infected pig with blue ear should be burned and buried in a deep pit, said authorities.
The animal husbandry department under the Ministry of Livestock and Fishery is trying to import medicine to treat the disease, and scientists from foreign countries have arrived in Burma to produce the medicine here, Dr. Khin Maung Maung of the ministry told Mizzima.
So far, Burma has tried to combat the disease using more simple biological controls but they have not yet contained the spread. Mandalay and Magway divisions have been the hardest hit areas, said an official from Animal Husbandry Department.
‘We don’t have effective medicines, and now it has become an epidemic. As soon as they’re infected, a pig cannot be cured’, an official told Mizzima. An infected pig can die within seven days, he said.
Blue ear, pig plague and pig diarrhea diseases cannot spread to humans through consumption of an infected pig but the selling and transporting of infected pigs are banned by the government.
The blue ear pig virus was first detected in the US in 1987 and has been found in Germany, Spain, Netherlands, France, England and Canada during 1990-1995. In Asia, the virus was found in China in 2006, Vietnam and Philippines in 2007, Thailand in 2008 and finally it spread to Mandalay in early February. The virus can infect pigs at any age.