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Saigon Becomes 55th Vietnam Locality Infected With African Swine Fever

On June 11, the disease, which is disastrous for pork production but poses no health risks to humans, was identified at a farm in District 9.

African swine fever first arrived in the north of Vietnam in February and has now infected animals in 55 of the nation's 63 provinces. 

The virus is easily transmitted through bodily fluids, as well as contaminated foods, surfaces and objects. Ho Chi Minh City Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Nguyen Phuoc Trung suggested the infection may be the result of the pigs' diet, which is mainly leftover food from restaurants.

In response, the farm killed 163 animals, according to Tuoi Tre, and spread disinfectants in the area. Trung told the news source: "Because District 9 in particular and Ho Chi Minh City have a relatively small supply of pigs for the city compared to pig sources from other provinces, the outbreak has not found an impact on the city's pork supply. [sic]"

The outbreak represents a grave situation for Vietnam, with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc claiming: "Fighting African swine fever is like fighting invaders." So far 2.45 million infected pigs in the nation have been culled at an estimated economic cost of VND3.6 trillion (US$154 million). With 30 million pigs, Vietnam is the sixth-largest pork producer in the world, with the industry supporting 2.4 million households. The meat also makes up 70% of the average Vietnamese diet. 

To combat the problem, Vietnam has enlisted assistance from the military and implemented strict quarantine measures. The government has advised farmers to consider raising alternative animals while residents explore alternative protein options.

The outbreak is affecting the country's trade economy as well. Various foreign countries have placed bans on pork from Vietnam

Since its emergence in Africa in 2005, the disease has expanded to 11 countries, including several in Europe and Asia. Dirk Pfeiffer, a veterinary epidemiologist at City University of Hong Kong, called it "the biggest animal disease outbreak we’ve ever had on the planet," The Guardian reports. There is no vaccine against it and, because of its relatively long incubation period and citizens' tendency to scoff at quarantines, there is little hope it will be contained anytime soon.

[Photo via ILRI]

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