Alert! Your pig may be at risk of deadly flu
SEE ALSO :Get to the meat in butchery businessWatch out for ticks Today, I want to bring to your attention a deadly pig disease known as African swine fever (ASF) caused by ASF virus. This disease affects all pig-like animals both wild and domestic. The main culprits being warthogs who maintain the infection until it gets to the domestic pigs. Infection can occur through ticks (known as ornithodoros ticks) that transmit the virus or through people and their activities moving the virus from place to place. Once a pig is infected, it becomes the primary source of infection to other pigs. This is because the virus is shed into the environment from body fluids or from droplets of air when the animal breathes. So pigs end up breathing air contaminated with the virus or eating and drinking feed and water contaminated with the virus. Prevention is the cure ASF occurs in pig farms as outbreaks and has the potential to affect all pigs in a farm and can also lead to death of all pigs in a farm. Being a viral infection, it has no straight cure or medication, prevention is the only option to keep this infection off. Whenever an infection starts in a farm, it takes only five to seven days for farmer to notice that his pigs are sick. Unfortunately, by this time; the animals will be having a high fever and will have stopped feeding well. The affected pigs will show signs of inactivity; depression and some will be unable to walk due to the effect of the disease on their joints which are most likely painful. As the infection progresses, the virus multiplies in the body leading to reddening of the skin of the belly and the ears of the affected pigs. Outbreak in Kenya Soon after, the animals will start vomiting and having difficulty in breathing and in no time death follows. Sadly, almost all affected pigs die from this disease. Whenever farmers notice this infection, they call the vet who is not able to assist much because they can only treat the symptoms of the disease but with limited success. Usually what is left is a farmer swearing never to keep pigs again! The only sure way to keep away this disease is through strict biosecurity measures as there are no effective vaccines in use in Kenya. Beware, there’s an ongoing outbreak in the country now. [The writer is a researcher at Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation. [email protected]]
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