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ASF Cambodia: 1st outbreak as virus travels south

Many expected it to happen for some time, and yesterday it happened: the news broke that African Swine Fever has also reached Cambodia.

The country reported its 1st official African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak from a backyard farm in Ratanakiri province, an eastern province bordering Vietnam. This province is sparsely populated and is not very well developed either.

ASF on a farm of 500 pigs

According to the report to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) the farm had 500 animals of which 400 had contracted the virus. Another 100 animals were culled. The outbreak was first found on 22 March, and confirmed by the Cambodian National Animal Health and Production Research Institute (NAHPRI).

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

The backyard farm is located in Ou Ya Dav district, at about 16 km from the border with Vietnam and roughly 350 km in a straight line north east of the capital Phnom Penh. The farm is 320 km in a straight line south from the nearest officially confirmed outbreak location in Vietnam, in Thua Thien-Hue province. Rumours already went around in the 2nd half of March about outbreaks in Vietnamese provinces bordering Cambodia. The confirmation now of an outbreak on the Cambodian side of the border may imply there is likely more going on at the Vietnamese side as well.

Origin of the ASF infections

The Khmer Times reported about the view of Than Phannara, director of Cambodia’s ministry’s animal health and production department. He had said that preliminary results of the monitoring process showed that the infection could have come from pork products being sold on motorbikes along the border. Mr Phannara was quoted to say, “We have studied and found there is no import of animals from Vietnam, but people at the border said meat and vegetables are still being imported and sold on motorbikes.”

The Philippines have already announced to ban all pork imports from Cambodia due to the ASF outbreak. It is unclear how much pork was transported between the countries.

Read all updates on African Swine Fever on the Pig Progress minisite

African Swine Fever in Vietnam

Neighbouring Vietnam has had ASF since February this year; ever since most official reports came from the north of the country, predominantly in February and early March. Only 2 outbreaks so far have been reported from the middle of the coastal country, which measures 1,600 km from north to south. In total, Vietnam has reported 211 cases in 23 provinces to the OIE. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), almost 90,000 pigs have been culled in Vietnam in an attempt to stop the spreading.

The virus entered China in August last year and was also found on 11 locations in Mongolia in January 2019. It is likely that the virus, for which there is no vaccine, will eventually spread out over the whole of South East Asia’s mainland.