May 14, 2019 / 5:28 AM / 12 days ago

Vietnam to mobilize military in fight against African swine fever

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam said it will mobilize its military and police forces to help combat the outbreak of African swine fever that has already resulted in the culling of about 4% of the country’s pig herd.

The virus, first detected in the Southeast Asian country in February, has hit farms in 29 provinces, and prompted the authorities to cull more than 1.2 million pigs.

“Soon, soldiers and policemen will take part in efforts to make sure infected pigs are culled in a timely manner, keeping the outbreak from spreading further,” the state-run Tien Phong newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing Vietnam’s deputy agriculture minister, Phung Duc Tien.

According to the report, Tien said police will launch an investigation into cases, where local authorities have failed to properly handle the outbreak.

“Vietnam had never faced such a dangerous, complicated and costly disease outbreak in its husbandry industry,” agriculture minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong said at a conference in Hanoi on Monday.

Many provinces had failed to detect outbreaks and cull infected pigs properly due to the lack of funds and space required for burying the dead pigs, the government said on Monday.

Pork accounts for three-quarters of the total meat consumption in Vietnam, a country of 95 million people, where most of its 30 million farm-raised pigs are consumed domestically.

The disease, which is harmless to humans but incurable in pigs, has also spread quickly across neighboring China, the world’s top pork producer.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in March advised Vietnam to declare the swine fever outbreak as a national emergency.

Reporting by Khanh Vu, Editing by James Pearson and Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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