Nepal reports first deadly African swine fever outbreak

934 pigs have died so far from the highly contagious virus in the Kathmandu valley.

Arjun Poudel

Arjun Poudel

The Kathmandu Post


Photo courtesy: World Organization for Animal Health

May 20, 2022

KATHMANDU –  Nepal reported its first cases of African swine fever in pigs, the World Organization for Animal Health said on Thursday.

The fever has so far killed 934 pigs in six municipalities in Kathmandu Valley.

The Paris-based organisation that has a mandate to improve animal health and welfare throughout the world, said on its website that Nepal has 1,426 susceptible and 1,364 active cases of the African swine fever as of Thursday evening.

In Kathmandu, outbreaks have been reported in Kageshwari Manohara-6, Dakshinkali Municipality, Kirtipur Municipality-4 and 5, and Tokha Municipality.

In Bhaktapur, the outbreak has been reported in Changunarayan Municipality.

In Lalitpur, the outbreak has been reported in Godawari Municipality-12.

Nepal is yet to declare the first outbreak. But officials say they are aware of the situation.

“Yes, the outbreak has been confirmed in Nepal,” said Dr Chandra Dhakal, information officer at the Department of Livestock Services under the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development. “We will hold a press meet on Friday to provide details.”

Dhakal did not elaborate.

According to studies, African swine fever is a highly contagious viral pig disease. The virus is transmitted through direct contact with infected pigs, wild boars and via ticks.

The virus can also survive several months in processed meat and several years in frozen carcasses.

The World Organization for Animal Health said that the virus is “not a danger” to human health, but it could have a devastating impact on the pig population.

Reports show that the virus may significantly impact food security as it spreads faster thus killing all the pigs in no time. Pigs are one of the key sources of food in Nepal.

There is currently no effective vaccine against African swine fever, according to doctors.

“The virus is highly contagious. It can have up to 100 percent mortality rate in pigs,” Dr Dibesh Karmacharya, chairman at the Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal and Biovac Nepal.

“But there is no evidence of the transmission of the virus in humans.”

The virus is highly resistant in the environment, meaning that it can survive on clothes, boots, wheels, and other materials, according to reports. It can also survive in various pork products, such as ham, sausages or bacon.

The World Organization for Animal Health said that human behaviours can play an important role in spreading this pig disease across borders if adequate measures are not taken.

Experts in Nepal say there is no evidence that the virus has transmitted to humans and caused harm. However, it could inflict heavy damage to the farm sector.

The symptoms of the African swine fever in its acute forms are a high temperature, loss of appetite, vomiting diarrhea, and difficulty in breathing and standing.

The virus also causes abortion in pigs.

African swine fever continues to spread worldwide.

The disease has reached multiple countries across Asia, including China and India, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Pacific, affecting both domestic and wild pigs.

This article has been updated to fix the data.

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