North West Department of Agriculture and Rural Development confirms that, there has been a registered outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Wilgeboom in a ZA registered compartment (ZA10/20A) in Potchefstroom.
The diagnosis was confirmed from tissue samples that were collected from a post mortem that was conducted on the farm by a Private Veterinarian.
“Initially an action plan that was intended to separate the infected houses from the number of the non-infected houses was designed. The plan had intended to slaughter healthy pigs at an abattoir and de-bone the meat and also heat treat it before it could be used for consumption,” said the department in a statement.
According to the department, this process of de-boning and heat treatment would have killed the virus and also salvage much of the animals on the farm.
“In this plan the abattoir would have given to Veterinary authorities their protocol on how workers, cleaning and storage was going to happen because of the risk associated with the origin of the animals.”
Before the weekend of March 31, the Veterinary authorities received information that the disease had extended into the previously non-infected houses of the farm and mortalities were happening. Veterinary authorities received laboratory results of confirmed positive cases that were tested at OVI laboratory. This necessitated a change of the whole plan that was in place.
The situation at the farm slowly developed to be dire because the initial plan was also going to bring the much-needed financial injection into the farm which has been under quarantine for the past month.
“Progressively feeding of animals without ability to sell them drove an unexpected challenge. Not being able to remove animals as they reach mature age also created challenges with space,” reports the department.
The Directorate Veterinary Services invoked the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) to participate as the situation was slowly developing to a crisis situation. The Department then received a message that the farmer is planning to euthanize all the animals on the farm because of welfare reasons and also of the feed situation. The Department made commitment to assist with facilitating disposal to avoid polluting and degradation of the environment.
The department further said that after discussions at the PDMC, it was agreed that the Platkop Landfill site is available for disposal of pig carcasses.
“This was after an advice from the Provincial Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment and appropriate approval was acquired from National Department of Forestry and Fisheries and Environment for a once permission for North West Veterinary Services to dispose the carcasses in a legal manner.”
The Department facilitated the required permission for the carcasses to be transported to Gauteng. Animals will be euthanized using captive bolt and electrical stunners. The South African Pig Producers Organisation (SAPPO) was very instrumental in acquiring the instruments to be used. SAPPO also assisted with averting the welfare issue at the farm. As at the moment the work of euthanasia is planned to start on 09th April by which time all logistic and legal arrangement would have been made. The Department will however only participate to assist if the farmer initiates the depopulation.
The Department through Directorate Veterinary Services will continue to work with the farm after complete depopulation to ensure safety of the environment in preparation for introduction of new stock on the farm.