Pigs at a property in Maubisse, in central Timor-Leste. (Image/supplied)

AINARO, 19 November 2019 (TATOLI) – Timor’s Ainaro District remains officially free of African Swine Fever, after authorities declared the deaths of 100 animals there unrelated to the highly-contagious disease.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ (MAP) Ainaro District Director, Lúcio Romeo Ribeiro, acknowledged on Monday the pigs had died at the local market — but not from ASF.

“We have identified that all the pig deaths in Ainaro were caused by a normal illness,” he said.

“More pig illnesses [were detected] in Hatu-Udo and Cassa, but were not caused by the African Swine Fever.”

Timor-Leste imposed restrictions on the movement of animals between districts after detecting an outbreak of ASF in Dili in September. The most recent figures from MAP show some 4,000 pigs have been infected across seven districts, with 400 killed.

But Mr Ribiero said last week’s Ainaro outbreak was most likely due to Classical Swine Fever, a less-deadly virus also known as pig’s cholera.

Independent veterinarian, Dr Alipio de Almeida, said unlike ASF, CSF is endemic to Timor-Leste.

“But the CSF illness has a vaccine, therefore best way to eradicate it is routine and regular vaccinations…to protect the pigs from the virus itself,” he said.

But he warns farmers that the vaccine is a prevention – not a cure.

“If the pigs are already affected, we should take them for the treatment according to the symptoms that show, not for a vaccine,” he said.

Ministry of Agriculture Authorities have been distributing information like this in the hope of containing the ASF outbreak (Image/MAP)

The latest outbreak of ASF was detected in China in August 2018 and has now spread to 10 countries across the region. Vietnam is perhaps worst affected; the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation has reported outbreaks in all 63 provinces, with authorities there been forced to cull almost six million animals so far.

African Swine Fever is usually deadly to pigs, but harmless to humans.

Lúcio Romeo Ribeiro said  MAP does not expect the ASF will spread to Ainaro district, but communities need to be watchful for symptoms.

“If it happens that the pigs are getting infected by the virus, the community should contact us. If we are not able to handle it, then we will send a letter to national [authorities],” he said.

First published in Tetum as: Fahi 100-resin Mate iha Ainaro La’ós Kauza Hosi ASF

Journalist: Evaristo Soares Martins

Editor: Francisco Simões; Robert Baird

Translation: Nelia Borges

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