Authorities in Malawi’s southern Thyolo district have banned the sale of pork following an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF), which has killed over 150 pigs in five villages.
The affected villages are Magombo, Ndalama, Matchuwana, and Nkolokosa in Nchilamwera and Nabomba in the area of T/A Kapichi in the district.
The district agriculture development officer Cosmas Lwanda said the ban on the movement and slaughtering of pigs as well as the sale of pork will be for a month to counter the disease.
“We have banned the sale of pork and any transfers of pigs in the district for a month and currently we are sensitizing communities on the need to oblige,” said Lwanda.
According to Lwanda, they have engaged traditional leaders and the police to help in the enforcement of the ban through sensitization meetings.
“We are meeting with traditional leaders and we are also involving the police to help us enforce the ban. we are also teaching the communities of the threat and we will also include community policing groups to help us tackle the problem at village level,” said Lwanda.
District livestock health and development officer, Obed Marshal said that the disease is spreading through maize husks and drinking water.
“The ban was imposed on 13 January and then we had 127 pigs reported dead, but the number has risen to 150 and we are intensifying the community sensitization to fight the spread. We have discovered that the disease is spreading through Madeya (maize husk) and drinking water for the animals,” said Marshal.
“Some people take the feed from maize mills which were contaminated and some also wash their plates, which had pork from the infected animals in places where they take drinking water for the pigs.”
Marshal added “African swine fever has no treatment or vaccination and it is sad that some business people are still selling pork in the area.”
Meanwhile, the sensitization meetings are still in progress around the district.
African swine fever is not a direct danger for human health nor does it threaten other animal species as it only affects pigs and wild boar.
However, it can impact people’s livelihoods, food security and nutrition.
There is no vaccine or treatment against this disease and almost all infected animals die after some days.
Disease can be prevented through good husbandry practices and controlled through stamping out of the affected pigs and potentially affected pigs nearby.
This requires compensation policies to ensure reporting and ease the hardship on pig owners.
African swine fever originates in Africa.The disease spreads mainly through pork and pork products, where the virus can resist for long periods.