Gaborone - Botswana has announced that it has taken a decision to ban imports of live pigs and their fresh products from neighbouring South Africa.
Director of the department of Veterinary Services, Dr Letlhogile Modisa, informed farmers and the general public that African Swine Fever, a highly contagious disease of domestic and wild pigs has been reported in South Africa.
Modisa said due to this outbreak, a ban on importation of live pigs and their fresh products from South Africa is imposed.
"Therefore, farmers are advised to confine their pigs in pigsties and report all ill or dead pigs both domestic, free-range and warthogs to their local Department of Veterinary Service offices or police," he said.
Modisa said the public will be updated on new developments regarding the situation.
Reports indicate that African Swine Flue is recognised by the global veterinary society as one of the major threats to pig production, food security and biodiversity in the world as it is incurable or no cure or vaccine currently exists for the virus and the disease can spread through direct or indirect contact as well as cause high mortality but fortunately cannot infect humans.
The virus can persist for a long time in the environment, carcasses and in a variety of swine products.
Its symptoms are high fever, weakness and difficulty standing, vomiting, diarrhoea, red or blue blotches on the skin (particularly around ears and snout), coughing or labored breathing.
And high proportions of the animals with the disease will die within 10 days.
According to a statement from South Africa's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, “The affected areas have been placed under quarantine and the provincial veterinary services are applying the necessary disease control measures”.
The ministry said it was investigating the source of the disease and what other farms could be affected.
Media reports indicate that the first outbreak outside South Africa's control zone for ASF was detected in April and were thought to be linked to contact with wild animals.
According to a report in The Sunday Times, the South African government has detected an outbreak of African swine fever on a farm in the North West, but consumers of pork do not need to be concerned.
The paper said this was an assessment of Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of SA.
Reuters recently quoted the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as saying the outbreak killed 32 out of a herd of 36 pigs on a farm in the Ditsobotla district, with the remaining animals slaughtered. The disease is incurable in pigs but harmless to humans. It has spread across China since last year, causing major losses there.
Sihlobo is qouted as saying on his blog that he had confirmed the North West report with the CEO of the South African Pork Producers' Organisation, Johann Kotze "who has clarified that these were specifically wild pigs".