African Swine Fever, ASF, is a highly infectious pig disease which causes high fever, loss of appetite, hemorrhages in the skin and internal organs. The pigs would die within two to ten days of being infected. Countries such as Africa, Europe, Russia and Asia are currently being affected by an outbreak of ASF. In light of this, Belize Agricultural Health Authority, BAHA, has sent out an advisory encouraging the public to take necessary precautions. Love News spoke with Dr. Miguel Depaz, the Director of Animal Health Department at BAHA who said that an outbreak would affect our food security.
Dr. Miguel Depaz – Director of Animal Health Department, BAHA: “More than one million pigs have either died or are being slaughtered because of the disease and when it hits a farm you have like 100% mortalities so it is a very serious disease. Many Belizeans depend on their pig farms. These farms create jobs, provides protein to Belizeans and if we were to get infected with this disease, if our pigs were to get infected then it could be devastating. If the disease was to come farmers would see their animals dying. Before they die you would see read ears, red abdomen, red legs, animals that don’t want to eat, don’t want to move around. They have fever and we are advising farmers to please call BAHA so that we could respond immediately and take samples and put the farm on percussionary quarantine and make a diagnosis and know whether we have the disease or not.”
Dr. Depaz explained that the virus could enter the country through the importation of pork products and as such BAHA is strengthening the quarantine at our ports of entry. Dr. Depaz went on to speak about the precautionary measures the organization is taking to avoid a possible outbreak.
Dr. Miguel Depaz – Director of Animal Health Department, BAHA: “What BAHA is doing is we are educating, we are embarking on a public awareness campaign throughout the country. Recently we have done one up north and one west because those are the two districts where we have the majority of pigs so we started off focusing on the farmer, not to say that the general public doesn’t play role. We need to educate the general public not to smuggle pork products into Belize and so we are also educating the general public and the farmers. Also we are asking them to strengthen their biosecurity. In other words what is in the farm let that remain in the farm and anything that is outside of the farm not to come in. If something from outside of the farm is to come in then you should disinfect it.”
BAHA has clarified that it is safe to consume pork and pork products since ASF does not affect humans.