Announcing the ban here yesterday, Livestock and Fisheries minister Mashimba Ndaki said the rapidly spreading influenza had already killed 1,500 pigs in affected districts. The ban includes trading in and transporting pigs.
The minister said that 909 deaths were recorded in Kahama, while 56 were registered in Geita, while Mbogwe district had 388 swine deaths so far and Sengerema 147, adding up to about 10.1 percent of 14,814 domesticated pigs by current estimates, in the four districts, with their total worth put at 375m/-.
The minister also directed that trade in pigs in the affected districts stop with immediate effect, cautioning farmers who collect pork leftovers from various eateries as feed for their pigs to similarly stop the practice
Transportation of pigs in and out their areas of nativity should be controlled and animals in those areas should be quarantined, he ordered.
The ban now means that pork lovers, traders and piggery owners will have to wait as authorities chart out a plan and act swiftly to contain the disease from spreading further in the zone and other parts of the country.
African swine fever causes severe illness and high death rates in pigs, with pigs of all ages affected. Signs of illness include high fever, decreased appetite, and weakness. The skin may be reddened, blotchy or have blackened lesions, especially on the ears, tail and lower legs.
“I know it is not easy but I appeal to residents of the affected districts not to eat pork until the disease is contained. If one eats contaminated pork that means the disease will spread further,” the minister underlined, halting all slaughter of pigs in the affected areas. Pork trade is responsible for the fast spread of the viral disease in the zone, he declared.
He warned piggery owners to zero-graze their animals; avoid movements of the pigs as a way of minimizing the spread of the disease, meanwhile as in future, slaughtering the animals at home instead of designated slaughterhouses will similarly be prohibited.
“The virus that causes the disease spreads very fast. Once it enters a piggery, it tends to kill all the animals,” he remarked.
Ndaki said the price of pigs in the affected districts has slumped to tempting levels for traders but warned that everybody must beat the temptation since the time is just not right,
Teams of animal health experts from the ministry have already arrived in the affected districts to assess the impact and introduce control measures, he said.
“We have reached out to the Sokoine University of Agriculture and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for help, with livestock extension officers sought to educate people on the disease and impose temporary restriction on consumption of pork.
Last week, Kahama District Commissioner Anamringi Macha said that more than 500 pigs were killed by the disease which landed in the district last month. He banned pork sales to curb the spread of the fever.
“The district authorities in collaboration with the central government are working hard to ensure that the disease is controlled before it spreads to neighboring districts and regions,” the DC noted.
A previous outbreak of African swine fever was in March 2018 where more than 900 pigs were killed, but the disease remained in Ruvuma region.