Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2022. 6:20 pm CST.
Photo Credit: Eco Business
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The Belize Agricultural Health Authority’s (BAHA) Animal Health Department and the Ministry of Agriculture’s Cayo Extension Service on Tuesday conducted a training session on African Swine Fever for pig producers from the Cayo district.
“The main objective was to conduct public awareness targeting swine producers on African Swine Fever and Bio-Security methods,” said the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise (MAFSE).
“African Swine Fever (ASF) is a highly contagious viral disease of domestic and wild pigs, with a mortality rate that can reach 100%. It is not a danger to human health, but it has devastating effects on pig populations and the farming economy. There is currently no effective vaccine against ASF,” said MAFSE.
“The virus is highly resistant in the environment, meaning that it can survive on clothes, boots, wheels, and other materials. It can also survive in various pork products, such as ham, sausages, or bacon. Therefore, human behavior can play an important role in spreading this pig disease across borders if adequate measures are not taken,” said MAFSE.
The Ministry of Agriculture has been tracking the disease for a year now and BAHA has been at a heightened state of readiness.
Last year in August when the International Regional Agricultural Health Organization (OIRSA) declared a regional emergency after Swine Fever decimated the Dominican Republic’s pig population, Minister Jose Abelardo Mai said Belize stands to lose more than $30 million should African Swine Fever enter the country and attacks the industry.
“As a country we cannot afford to have this dreadful disease in our country and we at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise along with our local and international partners will do everything to keep it out,” Mai said at the time.
Since then, the Ministry has taken steps to keep out the disease and has conducted training sessions like the one carried out in Cayo on Tuesday.
Director of Animal Health Dr Miguel DePaz said the disease not only has a 100% mortality rate but there is no vaccine to combat it. Dr DePaz said that because the African Swine Fever can be brought in by importation of live pigs or pork products, BAHA has to do risk assessment at entry points.
Belize’s pig industry is made up of approximately 45,000 animals and is worth over $30 million. According to Minister Mai, the industry provides 3,500 jobs on farms and slaughtering facilities.
The Swine Fever training was conducted at the BAHA Conference Room in Central Farm.
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