Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The blue ear pig virus continues to spread. It has now reached the southern Irrawaddy Region and into Mon State in southeast Burma.
So far, six regions or states have reported outbreaks of the disease, according to the Rangoon Region Animal Husbandry and Veterinarian Department.
The virus has spread so widely due to ineffective bans on the transportation of pigs, veterinarians said.
Early this month, the Animal Husbandry and Veterinarian Department banned transporting pigs and pork into Rangoon Region.
The disease, which affects the reproductive organs and respiratory tract, was first found in the Mandalay area in February and has spread to Naypyitaw, Magway, Pegu, Rangoon, Irrawaddy and Mon states.
In early May, pathologists from the Veterinarian Institute in Thailand, who are researching the disease, visited Burma to make observations in the affected areas and offer suggestions to prevent and control the spread of disease.
In early May, although the Rangoon Region banned transporting pigs and pork from the Pegu Region, transporting pigs and pork from the Irrawaddy Region was allowed.
Rangoon Region authorities have ordered meat shops in Rangoon not to sell infected pork and said that violators would be punished. Meanwhile, the price of pork has dropped by half.
‘Earlier the price of pork thigh was 6,000 kyat (about US$ 8) per viss (1 viss =1.6 kg) but many people bought it. Now the price is just 3,500 kyat but people don’t want to buy’, a pork butcher at Thingangyun market told Mizzima.
‘To show that the pork in my shop is not infected, I hung pig heads and ears in front of my shop’, the butcher said.
A veterinarian said that the blue pig ear disease had spread from China to Burma, while another source noted that pig traders usually export pigs from Mandalay to China.
Blue spots often appear on the ears and skins of infected pigs. Because of the virus, some blood-vessels of the infected pigs are broken and the blood cannot circulate to some parts of a pig including the ears. First, red spots appear and then they turn blue, according to the Animal Husbandry and Veterinarian Department.
When the disease affects the reproductive organs, pigs can have a miscarriage or they give birth to dead or disabled piglets. When the disease affects respiratory tracts, pigs will lose their appetite, wither, run a temperature and have dripping noses and coughs, according to the department. The blue ear pig virus infection rate is more than 50 per cent.
Starting in February, state-run newspapers have periodically run articles on how to prevent the disease and authorities have launched a public awareness campaign in some townships.
On the other hand, an editor of a Rangoon-based journal told Mizzima that the government’s public awareness campaign should also be conducted in villages and in rural areas.
‘If they hear that the disease has spread to a ward, they will conduct an awareness campaign without enthusiasm only in the neighbouring wards. It’s not effective’, he said.
‘The disease has spread for a long time. They know that it is out of control. So, they should go to villages and townships in states and regions to talk directly with people in the areas. Advising people in only some areas is not enough. Some people do not read state-run newspapers’, he said.