In the wake of the African Swine Fever (ASF) killing nearly 15,000 pigs in Assam and spreading to new areas despite preventive measures, the state government is preparing to go for mass culling, according to media reports.

Earlier this month, Assam Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Minister Atul Bora had said that the Centre has advised the state government to go for the culling of pigs affected by ASF.

The disease was first reported in November-December 2019 from areas of China bordering Arunachal Pradesh. Pigs in the eastern part of Assam started dying in mid-April.

Despite the Central government’s advice, the Assam had decided against culling pigs.

The state told the Centre that in case of culling it will have to pay huge amounts to farmers and firm owners as compensation, which would require a huge financial support from the Central government.

The Kaziranga National Park authority has dug a two-km long and six-feet deep trench to protect wild boars (also known as ‘wild swine’) from the ASF infection.

The African Swine Fever is an additional battle for the state amidst the novel Coronavirus and is affecting the livelihood of thousands of already economically distressed people in the animal resource trade.

According to the 2019 census, Assam had over 21 lakh pigs, which could have increased to around 30 lakh.

Due to ASF, pig mortality is also being reported from 9 districts of Arunachal Pradesh. After the outbreak, all eight northeast states have sounded high alert and asked people, especially owners of piggeries, to refrain from bringing pigs from other states.

Animal resource experts suspect Tibet to be the source of ASF.

The northeast’s annual pork business is worth around Rs 8,000-10,000 crore, with Assam being the largest supplier. It’s one of the most common and popular meats consumed by tribals and non-tribals in these states.

According to experts, pigs are generally affected by the classical fever, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome besides ASF, which was first detected in 1921 in Kenya. No vaccines or medicines have been discovered so far.

According to some experts, humans don’t get infected by ASF, but they could be the carriers of the virus.