Burmese government health officials are investigating the cause of death among pigs in Rangoon, according to Dr Soe Win, head of the Rangoon Region Animal Husbandry and Veterinarian Department.
An outbreak of pig deaths in the Rangoon area has officials scrambling to learn the cause of death, after ruling out blue ear disease. [AFP Photo / Frederic J. Brow]Since May, pigs on farms and in small-scale household farming in Insein, Hlaingthayar and Hlegu townships have died. Tests indicated they were infected with a bacteria, but the exact cause is unknown.
"According to the laboratory results, they were not infected by blue ear pig disease. They were infected by a bacteria," Dr Win told Mizzima.
Recently, the blue ear pig virus, also known as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), had spread in the Pegu Region adjacent to Rangoon. The authorities have banned transporting pigs and pork from the Pegu Region since mid-May. Checkpoints in Hlegu (45 km northeast of Rangoon) and Htandapin stop trucks to inspect their animal cargo.
Meanwhile, health authorities have launched a public awareness campaign and done prevention work in townships and surrounding rural areas. The medicine which can treat the blue pig ear virus is not available in Burma, according to Dr Win.
"Pig farm owners need to obey our instructions," Dr Win said. "They should not let other animals enter their farms. And their pigs should not be moved to other farms."
The price of pork dropped by 1,500 kyat (US$ 1.75) per viss (1 viss=1.6 kg) in the past two weeks.
"Two weeks ago, the price of pork thigh was 6,000 kyat per viss. Now, the price is just 4,500 kyat. The buyers are afraid to buy pork because of the disease," a butcher at Thingangyun Market told Mizzima.
Only pork from legal slaughter houses are allowed to sell in markets, said an official at the Rangoon Municipal Department.
"In the markets, health workers and market authorities are inspecting the meat shops," he said.
PRRS, which affects the reproductive organs and respiratory tract, was first found in the Mandalay Region in February 2011. The disease has been found in Naypyitaw, Sagaing, Magway and Pegu regions.
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