By ESTHER NG’ANDU, Mildred Katongo –
Authorities are struggling to stop the further spread of swine fever which has claimed more than 900 more pigs in Northern Province after wasting some 1,500 animals Luapula.
The disease is now in five districts of Northern Province where 952 pigs are reported to have died in the last few days in Luwingu, Northern Province, Luwingu District Commissioner Patrick Chanda has said.
Mr Chanda said the district’s population of 5,000 pigs was in danger of being decimated by the outbreak and measures had been put in place to contain the spread of the disease, including a ban on the movement of pigs and other livestock.
“We are saddened, as a district, to announce the death of 952 pigs which were attacked by swine fever which has broken out in the district…we have a population of about 5,000 pigs in the district, so that figure (952) is a big loss,” he said.
Northern Province Permanent Secretary Jobix Kalumba said the veterinary officers were investigating multiple cases suspected African swine fever by taking the samples to the laboratories for verification.
Dr Kalumba confirmed the disease was currently present in five districts in the province and appealed to the ministry of Livestock and Fisheries to intensify the investigations and ensure that the disease was contained.
“The suspected African swine fever is killing pigs in about five districts in the province. The veterinary officers are conducting investigations and will take the samples to the laboratories to verify the kind of disease killing the animals. It is sad that our animals are being killed. We appeal to the ministry to intensify the investigations,” he said.
He appealed to the members of the public in affected areas to corporate with the officers from the Livestock ministry during their investigations.
Mr Chanda said outbreak was a setback to the government’s process of diversifying the economy from dependence on mining to agriculture, with livestock development being a major part of the programme.
He said the outbreak had affected six villages and in six chiefdoms, with Senior Chieftainess Chungu’s area among the most adversely affected.
“The main villages affected are Mumba, Sunday, Chisense, Katambala, Shindaila and parts of Mapulanga Village,” he said.
Mr Chanda said to ensure that the disease did not spread to other areas, the authorities did not only ban movement but had been sensitising and educating the people on steps to take as they reared their animals.
“We have engaged traditional leaders in all the six chiefdoms so that they assist with the dissemination of information following this outbreak. We are optimistic that they will carry out a massive sensitisation exercise,” Mr Chanda said.
Meanwhile, the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) says it is saddened by the high number of pigs that are dying from the outbreak of African swine fever in Luwingu.
ZNFU public relations manager Calvin Kaleyi said the union was working closely with the Government through a massive sanitisation programme its field workers had embarked on and urged farmers to monitor any abnormal behaviour among their animals.
Mr Kaleyi said one of the solutions would be to quarantine and cull (killing of the diseased the animals) so that the disease did not spread to other areas.
“We are aware of this report and the only solution is culling the animals in the affected areas so that they don’t spread to other parts. Already we had this outbreak in Luapula a week ago and now it’s Luwingu. We are already on the ground working in partnership with the Government to curb this outbreak,” Mr Kaleyi said.
He added,“So farmers are being asked to closely monitor their animals and if they notice any abnormal behaviour, they should report quickly to the field officers we have in all the provinces and districts.”