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21 Feb 2021 KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Department of Veterinary Services has linked the recent deaths of scores of pigs in Pitas district to a possible outbreak of the deadly African swine fever. However, Deputy Chief Minister cum Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said further tests will still have to be carried out to confirm it. “Initial tests showed that eight of the 13 samples collected from the pigs in Pitas showed positive results for ASF.

"Currently, the Department of Veterinary Services in Putrajaya is conducting the confirmatory tests for this disease via DNA sequencing and we should be able to get the results in a day or two,” he said in a statement here today. Kitingan said he was told by DVS Director Dr Peter Lee that the Sabah DVS officers and staff were already on the field following a report about the possible outbreak two weeks ago to curb the spread of the disease. The viral disease has torn through Asia since it emerged in China in 2018, with at least 100 million pigs already been cut down by ASF or culled to corral the disease. ASF is witheringly fatal to pigs but harmless to humans. Kitingan reiterated that traces of the disease were only found among domestic pigs in Pitas and not in the wild bearded pigs which were found dead in a few districts since December.

“We are fortunate that Pitas is not a pig producing district. It is home to only a few hundreds kampong pigs plus the wild boars roaming in the estates and jungle. The nearest town with some pig population is Kota Marudu, about 50 km away and Kudat which is 140 km away. “Sabah’s main pig producing areas are Tamparuli, Tuaran and Papar on the west coast and Sandakan and Tawau on the east coast. “All the pork sold in the market are passed for human consumption, slaughtered in a licenced slaughterhouse approved by DVS and inspected before going into the market. The department also carried out tests from time to time for quality monitoring and diseases surveillance,” he said. In the meantime, Kitingan advised the pig industry players to step up their farm biosecurity. This includes prohibiting outsiders from entering their farm premises, disinfecting vehicles coming in and changing of attire when going into the farms.


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