BATU KAWAN, Penang: Farm owners who do not report sickness or unnatural death among their livestock to the authorities could be fined up to RM25,000 (US$6,033), the government warned on Monday (Jun 24).
While Malaysia is still free from the disease, the government is on the alert and taking precautionary measures to prevent African swine fever from spreading to the country, deputy agriculture and agro-based industry minister Sim Tze Tzin said.
“As of Jun 20, 2019, six ASF outbreaks have been reported in Asia, namely in China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, North Korea and Laos. In Vietnam, the ASF outbreak was first reported on Feb 19 and up to now 2.5 million pigs have been culled," Mr Sim said at a press conference on Monday.
"Only one ASF outbreak was reported in Cambodia which resulted in 2,400 pigs being killed or has died due to the disease. In North Korea, the first ASF case was reported at a farm on May 23 where 77 out of 99 pigs in the field died from the plague.
"Laos reported the first outbreak of ASF on Jun 20 in seven farms in the Saravane territory. Now there is only one buffer zone left which is Thailand. We are worried that if Thailand got infected, this plague could come into Malaysia," he added.
"GOVERNMENT IS READY"
Since China announced the first ASF case in Laoning on Aug 3, 2018, 136 outbreaks have been reported in 32 provinces resulting in more than one million pigs being culled.
Mr Sim said that to prevent the spread of the ASF virus into the country, the Veterinary Services Department issued a ban on the importation of pigs and pig products from China (Nov 12, 2018), Poland and Belgium (Jan 17, 2019), Thailand and Vietnam (Jan 23, 2019) as well as Cambodia (Apr 4, 2019).
He also said that based on clinical surveillance of commercial pig farms in eight states, none of them have showed any signs of the ASF disease. Malaysia has more than 600 pig farms with a total of 1.5 million pigs.
Sim also advised pig farmers to enhance the bio security of their farms by ensuring farm perimeter fences are in good condition, ensuring clean and disinfected clothes and boots for farm hands and to feed palettes to their livestock. He added they should promptly report sickness or unnatural death among the animals.
"Failure to report could result in a fine of not more than RM25,000," he said.
He said monitoring and inspection on the entry of pig products from ASF-risk countries have been conducted by the Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Service (MAQIS) Department at the country's main entry points since Nov 12, 2018 and up to now 180 samples of pork meat and products from such countries have been tested.
“The government is ready if there is an outbreak of ASF. We do not want it to happen but we have our contingency plan in place if there is an outbreak.
"We had a disaster 20 years ago with Nipah virus; we have had enough. We know how serious it is with diseases like ASF. ASF has proven to be very serious because it has spread like wild fire in six countries in Asia in less than a year. It is a clear and present danger to Malaysia. We do not want a repeat of what we experienced 20 years ago," he said.