Kerala culls 310 pigs to contain African Swine Fever outbreak

NewsDrum Desk
New Update

New Delhi, Jul 7 (PTI) The Centre on Sunday said around 310 pigs have been culled in Kerala's Thrissur district after an outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF).

The outbreak was detected in Madakkatharan Panchayath, prompting swift action from the state's Animal Husbandry Department.

Rapid Response Teams were deployed to cull and dispose of pigs within a 1 km radius of the epicentre on July 5, the Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying said in a statement.

This marks the latest incident in the country's ongoing battle with ASF, which first appeared in the northeastern states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in May 2020. Since then, the disease has spread to approximately 24 states and union territories across the country.

"Further surveillance as per the action plan is to be carried out within a 10 km radius of the epicentre," the ministry said.

Despite the outbreak's severity, the government was quick to reassure the public.

"ASF is not zoonotic. It cannot spread to humans," the ministry clarified.

However, the lack of a vaccine for ASF underscores the challenges in managing animal diseases, it added.

The National Action Plan for Control of ASF, formulated in 2020, outlines containment strategies and response protocols for outbreaks.

Even as the country faces a new outbreak of ASF in Kerala, the central government marked World Zoonoses Day on July 6 with an interactive session.

The day -- commemorating Louis Pasteur's first successful rabies vaccine on July 6, 1885 -- serves as a stark reminder of the thin line between animal and human health.

Zoonoses diseases that can jump from animals to humans include familiar threats like rabies and influenza, as well as more recent concerns like COVID-19.

However, the ministry emphasised that not all animal diseases pose a threat to human health.

"It's crucial to distinguish between zoonotic and non-zoonotic diseases," the ministry said, and added that "many livestock diseases, like Foot & Mouth Disease or Lumpy Skin Disease, cannot infect humans".

This distinction is particularly relevant for India, home to 11 per cent of the global livestock population and 18 per cent of the world's poultry. The country's animal health strategies have significant implications for its status as the world's largest milk producer and second-largest egg producer.

India's approach to zoonotic diseases is evolving. The government has launched nationwide vaccination campaigns for brucellosis in bovine calves and rabies.

Additionally, a National Joint Outbreak Response Team (NJORT) has been established under the One Health approach, bringing together experts from various ministries and research institutions, the statement said. PTI LUX BAL BAL