Officers to address swine fever

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NATIONAL Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection Authority (Naqia) officers will be travelling to Mendi to address the recent outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in Southern Highlands and other gazetted neighbouring provinces.
Last month, the Government declared Southern Highlands, Enga and Hela as “diseased areas” after Naqia confirmed the presence of the virus in the country.
Naqia officials formally requested an approval for a charter from Port Moresby to Mt Hagen from the controller of the State of Emergency (SOE) and Comm of Police David Manning.
Naqia officers will be deployed to contain the spread of ASF out from the epicenter in Mendi and other disease reported areas.
According to Agriculture and Livestock Minister John Simon last month, the ASF was suspected late last year when reports had surfaced of a high number of pig deaths, especially in Mendi.
Findings from Naqia revealed that the deaths occurred in Nipa, Mendi-Munihu and Central Mendi over a period of four months (Nov 2019- Feb 2020).
The pigs affected by ASF were understood to have collapsed and died with blood coming from their mouths and noses.
Simon had said the virus which mostly affected pigs was a threat to the country’s billion-kina pork industry.
He said though the virus was not a threat to public health and could not be transmitted through contact with pigs or pork products.
“It can greatly affect people in the Highlands region where pigs are highly sourced for food and income,” Simon said.
Locals from the epicenter reported to Naqia that more than 300 pigs in the province had died in recent months and there was a possibility of it spreading to other parts of the Highlands region.
Comm Manning recommended the Naqia team attend to the threat which could have a negative social impact on the people of Highlands and PNG as well.
“I am aware that this has the potential of creating a lot of issues for people in the Highlands where pigs play a significant role in the society and are of great importance.
“The team from Naqia is being sent to ensure that the problem is contained,” Manning said.
Naqia said it would need about K18 million to conduct the first stage of containment nationwide.