African Swine Fever Strikes Pune: State Animal Husbandry Takes Urgent Measures

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Pune, 20th February 2024: The Maharashtra state animal husbandry department is grappling with a concerning development as the first two cases of the African swine fever virus (ASFV) were detected in Pune late last month. ASFV is a highly contagious and life-threatening viral infection with a 100 percent mortality rate among pigs.

Dr. Devendra Jadhav, state deputy director of disease control (animal husbandry), revealed that state officials swiftly euthanized the infected pigs as there is no cure for ASFV. Moreover, culling operations were carried out for numerous pigs within a 1-km radius in Pune Camp, the area where the infected pigs were discovered.

The ASFV outbreak initially emerged in the northeastern part of the country in 2020, and though it was initially controlled, the virus has reappeared in Pune. Dr. Jadhav emphasized that vaccination is the only prophylactic measure available for both wild and pet pigs to combat ASFV.

Addressing concerns about the virus’s impact on humans, Dr. Jadhav assured that it is not a zoonotic disease, indicating that it does not spread to humans. However, due to its highly contagious and life-threatening nature, euthanizing infected animals and those within a 1-km area is necessary to prevent further transmission.

Dr. Jadhav noted sporadic cases of ASFV in the state since late last year, with Pune registering its presence only last month. The reasons behind the viral infection in Pune remain unclear, prompting officials to collect samples from infected pigs and gather travel history information from their owners. Authorities are urging pet owners, organized pig farm owners, and veterinary doctors to promptly notify them if they observe any symptoms related to the virus, especially high-grade fever.

In response to the urgent situation, the state animal husbandry department has requested over 1.6 lakh doses of ASFV vaccine from the central government to vaccinate the pig population in the state. A recent survey conducted in January revealed a significant increase in the pig population in organized pig farms, rising from 14,000 in 2019 to 70,000.

The vaccination drive aims to protect the pig population, with a focus on Pune, which currently houses 11,439 pigs. ASF is highly infectious, causing severe hemorrhagic disease in pigs, and is enzootic primarily in African countries. Symptoms include high-grade fever, bloody diarrhea, darkening of the skin, improper or heavy breathing, cough, and weakness.