African swine fever outbreak in Nagaland

Aizawl: A preliminary test has indicated African Swine Fever (ASF) as the main suspect behind the unusual pig deaths in a Mizoram village, an official of state animal husbandry and veterinary department said on Wednesday.

At least 125 pigs have died since March 21 at the Lungsen village, about 39 km from Lunglei town in the southern part of the state bordering Bangladesh.

Animal husbandry and veterinary department joint director (Livestock Health) Dr Lalhmingthanga said samples were tested at the department of pathology at College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry in Selesih near Aizawl on Monday as a preliminary investigation.

“African Swine Fever is highly suspected to be the main cause of deaths as revealed in the preliminary test,” he said.

He said the tissue and blood samples were sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Disease (NIHSAD) in Bhopal on Wednesday for a confirmatory test.

According to Lalhmingthanga, samples of dead pigs were earlier tested using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and all of them tested negative for Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) and Classical Swine Flu (CSF), the two pig-related diseases common to Mizoram. 

He said the infected pigs at Lungsen village have developed symptoms like loss of appetite, lethargy, fever, bluish discolouration on the abdomen, vomiting and also sudden death, which were indicative of ASF.

According to the official, the first pig death was reported at Lungsen on March 21 with pigs brought from a nearby village closed to the Indo-Bangladesh border. The state animal husbandry and veterinary department received information on the same on March 25.

Since then, at least 125 pigs have died in the village, he said.

Though the actual disease is yet to be confirmed, measures are being taken in accordance with ASF Prevention and Containment National Action Plan.

Lalhmingthanga said the state government on Tuesday declared the entire Lunglei district area as controlled or surveillance zone in order to contain and prevent the spread of the present disease outbreak.

Earlier this month, Lungsen village was declared “infected area” under the Prevention and Control of Infectious and Contagious Disease in Animal Act, 2009, on April 1 and movement of pigs in and outside the village was prohibited under section 144 of the CrPC for two months starting April 2, he said. 

A five-member investigation team, headed by the department deputy director (disease investigation and epidemiology) Dr. Zohmingthangi, is currently camping at the village.

Animal husbandry and veterinary minister Dr K Beichhua will also visit Lungsen on Thursday to take stock of the situation.

Meanwhile, pig deaths are also reported from Thinghlun village in Mamit district on the Mizoram-Assam border.

Lalhmingthanga said they have sent some veterinary officers to the village and were awaiting official information. 

Thinghlun village council president Vanneichhunga said that at least 12 pigs have died at the village since early April. 

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