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Study to curb swine fever - Nairobi-based institute will finalise action plan on disease

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  • Published 6.08.11

Guwahati, Aug. 5: The Nairobi-headquartered International Livestock Research Institute is undertaking a comprehensive study on the mortality of pigs in the Northeast because of classical swine fever and will suggest effective mechanisms for its prevention and control.

The study will focus on Assam, Nagaland and Mizoram, which are known for their swine population in the region.

The mortality rate in pigs because of classical swine fever varies from 60-80 per cent. About 80 per cent of the population in the Northeast are indigenous people and pig-keeping is an integral part of their life.

Swine fever, also known as hog cholera, is a highly contagious viral disease and is said to be the most serious threat to the pig population in the Northeast. When the disease strikes, it destabilises the local rural economy.

The total pig population in Northeast is 3.8 million. “Death of pigs is not always recorded in the veterinary hospitals mainly because of lack of facilities.If we can control swine fever, we can solve most of the problems affecting the swine population,” said Rameshwar Deka, scientific officer at the Northeast office of the institute in Guwahati.

The results will be declared next month.

The study will look into the incidence and impact of classical swine fever on pig production and livelihood. It will also review the current status of the manufacture, availability and efficacy of swine fever vaccine and its import policy.

The study is being done at two levels — at the field level where participatory epidemiological study is being done to assess the incidence of the disease and its impact on the livelihood of poor pig keepers.

Discussions are being held with officials on the policy issues. Besides, the study will look at the effectiveness of vaccine delivery, including availability of cold chain facilities, veterinary services. Deka said the study would look into the gaps and limitations to control the disease, including import policy of live pigs, quarantine measures, surveillance and disease reporting mechanisms.

The study will finalise a collective action plan to address the technical, institutional and policy issues that constrain effective control of the disease in the Northeast with roles and responsibilities of the relevant organisations and define monitoring mechanisms.

“Though swine fever vaccine is produced in the country, it is not available in sufficient quantities and is not easy to import it either. There are also reports of vaccination failure but the reasons are not clear. Vaccine delivery mechanism is also reported to be very weak. All these issues will be looked into,” Deka said.