Aizawl: The death toll of pigs in south Mizoram‘s Lunglei district reached 276 on Thursday, even as state animal husbandry and veterinary minister Dr K Beichhua visited the “infected area” to take stock of the situation, an official said.

Although the cause of pig deaths reported at Lungsen village is yet to be ascertained, preliminary tests have already hinted to African Swine Fever (ASF) as the cause.

Lungsen, a village close to the Bangladesh border, is located about 57 km from Lunglei town. The first pig death was reported in the village on March 21.

State animal husbandry and veterinary department joint director (livestock health) Dr Lalhmingthanga said that the death toll reached 276 as the latest report came in at 2 pm on Thursday. Pig samples reached Bhopal on Thursday and the results are expected soon, he added.

He said that National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) will directly declare the cause of the deaths after analysis.

Also read: 125 pigs dead in Mizoram; initial tests point to African Swine Fever

According to the official, pig deaths are also reported in at least three villages of Mamit district, which borders Bangladesh and Tripura. The actual figure from the three villages is yet to be confirmed, he said.

He added that samples were collected from the three villages in Mamit district for laboratory test.

Meanwhile, Beichhua visited Lungsen village on Thursday to take stock of the situation. He also interacted with community leaders and officials there.

The minister expressed regret for the incident and said that the state government is making a massive effort to contain the outbreak. He also visited burial grounds and inspected the safety measures being taken while burying pig carcasses.

The government has already declared Lungsen village as “infected area” and prohibited movement of pigs in and outside the village.

Also read: COVID-19: Mizoram sounds second wave alert, steps up border vigil

On Tuesday, the entire Lunglei district was declared as a surveillance zone in order to contain and prevent the spread of the outbreak.

Officials suspect the prevailing swine disease to be transmitted from pigs and smoked pork imported from neighbouring states and countries.

Mizoram shares inter-state border with Assam, Manipur and Tripura and an international boundary with Myanmar and Bangladesh.

In 2020, the ASF had killed thousands of pigs in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Manipur. Myanmar has also reported the deadly pig disease in the past.

ASF is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease affecting both domestic and feral swines of all ages. Experts said that it is not a threat to human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans.

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