The MEC’s office said that In April, some informal pig keepers on the outskirts of Daveyton next to Masenkeng informal settlement) bought pigs at an auction at Sundra, Mpumalanga and a few days later, they reported unusual deaths in the pigs which were confirmed to have African Swine Fever (ASF) virus.
This was the first reported outbreak in the Province.
Nombulelo Nyathela, Spokesperson to Gauteng MEC Economic Development, Agriculture and Environment, said that 257 belonging to 19 communal pig farmers were culled.
The average number of pigs per farmer was 14.
ASF is a disease of pigs, both domestic and wild pigs, that is caused by a virus. Wild pigs (bush pigs, warthogs, and European wild boars) are considered reservoirs for the disease as they will not show any clinical signs when infected but will be able to infect other pigs that they come into contact with. The disease is also spread between pigs by soft ticks (tampans) that would be found habiting warthog burrows. Domestic pigs that come into contact with either infected wild pigs, infected pig products or other infected domestic pigs will become seriously sick and most will die from the disease.
Nyathela said more outbreaks were reported in May where a small-scale farmer in Vanderbijlpark was reported to have visited the Hersa auction in Vereeniging and bought pigs from a Free State farmer whose pigs had been diagnosed with ASF.
“The farmer inevitably introduced infected pigs into his farm, which as a result infected his animals. A total of ninety-six (96) pigs were culled on this farm and disposed of. Again, between the end of May and the middle of June, the department became aware of pigs dying around Alra Park near Nigel, 91 pigs belonging to fourteen farmers were culled and disposed of.
“Towards the end of June, another outbreak was detected at an agricultural smallholding in Hallgate (Nigel) in which 7 pigs were culled. A further 55 pigs belonging to 4 farmers have culled on the 1st of July 2019 in the Alra Park extension 3 areas as they were in close proximity to the outbreak area.
At the beginning of August another outbreak was detected in Leeuwfontein Farm on the Lesedi side of Nigel in which thirty-four confined pigs were culled,” she said.
The current and latest outbreak was detected in an informal set up in the Swanieville area under West Rand district. A group of about five pig owners are affected. The estimated population of pigs in the area is in the region of 1000. The culling process is still pending.
The Gauteng Department for Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) has instituted the following measures in an attempt to minimize the spread of the disease to other regions:
1. GDARD, together with other affected Provinces, directed the cessation of selling of pigs at auctions until the ASF outbreak is declared over in Gauteng. The unintended consequence of this disease control measure was curtailing the sale of pigs other than through registered abattoirs.
2. The department has also implemented a system of issuing of movement permits for farmers wishing to move their pigs to abattoirs for slaughter.
3. Pig farmers are advised to contact their local state veterinarian to enable them to acquire these health attestations and/or movement permits.
4. The department is in the process of procuring pig feed for distribution to small scale farmers to buffer against losses resulting from the inability to sell their pigs in the live market.
5. GDARD has also intensified ASF awareness measures and strongly emphasized the importance of maintaining optimal biosecurity measures in their farms. In this regard, the department has held face-to-face engagements with pig farmers in all regions of Gauteng. The field officials have also distributed the pamphlet detailing information about the ASF and what measures to take to reduce the risk of the spread of the disease.