KOTA KINABALU: The African Swine Fever (ASF) virus has now spread widely among the vulnerable Bornean bearded pigs with at least 128 confirmed deaths.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Jeffrey Kitingan in a statement here today said the government fears for the survival of the species especially because the population of the Bornean bearded pigs is already declining.
“I am concerned the ASF will further decrease their population at a much faster rate,” he said.
Therefore, he said he has directed the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) to convene an urgent steering committee meeting with the relevant departments and agencies to coordinate efforts to control and eradicate ASF in Sabah.
The first meeting, chaired by DVS Director Dr Peter Lee was held on Tuesday and was attended by representatives from the State Attorney General Office, Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department, Drainage and Irrigation Department, Community Development Leader Unit, Information Department, Local Government and Housing Ministry and the police.
During the meeting, members were briefed on strategies that will be used to curb ASF disease from spreading to major pork production areas in Sabah.
“The committee discussed how to best solve the problem and raise awareness among the people in ASF-hit areas.
“This includes awareness campaign activities, determine how to contain the disease from spreading further among the wild bearded pigs and the best way to dispose of the pig carcasses,” he said.
The Sabah Wildlife Department has also suspended hunting licences and prohibited the selling of sinalau bakas or smoked wild boar meat.
So far, no new ASF cases have been recorded among backyard pigs while commercial pig farms in Tawau, Sandakan, Tenom, Papar, Tuaran and Penampang has remained ASF-free.
The DVS has carried out ASF awareness campaign in 74 villages in Pitas, the district where ASF was first discovered.
The department has also continued surveillance to detect the status of infection in ASF-free districts and collected 409 samples from abattoirs, commercial pork sales centres and sinalau bakas vendors throughout the State.
“As a result of this sampling collecting exercise, ASF has been found in Tawau, bringing the total number of districts with confirmed ASF cases to eight. These districts are Pitas, Kota Marudu, Beluran, Telupid, Kinabatangan, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Tawau.
“Five districts namely Pitas, Beluran, Kota Marudu, Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan have been declared ASF outbreak areas. The remaining three districts will be declared the same this week,” he said.
Kitingan said DVS has culled a total of 110 backyard pigs while 395 has died of the virus.
“We will ensure this disease does not reach our commercial pig farms to ensure pork supply for local consumption remains unaffected,” he said.
He reminded the public that ASF only affects pigs and there is no need to be worried about the virus’ effects on human health.