The State Animal Husbandry Department has started culling pigs in Wayanad following swine fever outbreak in Kerala.

The samples sent to the National Institute of High Security Diseases in Bhopal also confirmed the presence of the disease. According to Wayanad district administration, there is a need to cull around 300 pigs and the authorities have issued an alert in the neighbouring Kozhikode as well.

State Animal Husbandry Minister Chinchu Rani said the government has already banned the interstate sale and transportation of pigs and pork-related products. She has also directed owners of pig farms to strictly implement the bio-security and waste disposal mechanism as part of the swine fever action plan.

Contagious disease

There was some initial resistance from pig farmers fearing business losses. But have started complying following assurance of adequate compensation. Health experts have also asked people to cook red meat properly before consumption.

World Health Organization report says African swine fever, while not a threat to human beings, is a highly contagious viral disease prevalent in wild and domestic pigs and mortality rate is very high. It was first detected in Kenya in 1921.

TP Sethumadhavan, former director of Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, told BusinessLine that the demand for pork and pork products has been considerably reduced in the State and its prices had also fallen to 50 per cent. As per the recent census, Kerala has more than one lakh pigs and the disease outbreak created panic among farmers.

Compared to other livestock ventures pig production is profitable due to reduced input cost since a majority of the pig farms rely on kitchen or hotel wastes for feeding, he said.

He pointed out that all North Eastern states are reeling under the fear of the African swine fever outbreak. The governments had already banned the trade of pigs, piglets and pork products. The outbreak is likely to have an economic loss of ₹300 crore in the country and for Kerala, the figure would be around ₹20 crores.

He went on to add that culling and adoption of containment measures and disinfection coupled with the ban on trade and transportation of pigs can control the infection.