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ASF Bhutan: Virus hits 16th country in Asia

African Swine Fever (ASF) has come to the 16th country in Asia, as it has now been reported in Bhutan. The virus was discovered on May 6.

The virus was confirmed in a group of in total 1,310 pigs in Puentshogling Town, which is located right at the border between Bhutan and India. According to a report by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), all the affected and susceptible pigs are stray scavenging pigs. These pigs would move across the Bhutan-India border, uncontrolled.

ASF on the move inside India

The town borders the Indian state of West Bengal, where officially no ASF has been reported (yet). That ASF is also on the move inside India, however, became clear recently from reports in the India Times, which reported that the virus has also been confirmed in many villages in 9 districts in Mizoram state. This state borders Myanmar. According to local media, the virus caused 4,650 pigs to die between March and May 2021.

Until now, the virus had been officially confirmed in 2 other states of India, also in the far east of the country, i.e. Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. Both outbreaks were reported to the OIE in the first months of 2020 after which no official updates came from India.

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ASF in other countries in Asia

Apart from Bhutan and India, the virus has also been found in the Asian part of Russia, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, North Korea, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, South Korea and Vietnam.

The virus was also found in Hong Kong, which submits its outbreaks separately to the OIE, but is an special administrative region within China. Taiwan has also reported the washing ashore of ASF-positive carcasses but the virus was never found in live animals in Taiwan. In April 2021, the 1st positive carcass reached the shores near Taipei. Earlier cases had been found on the Kinmen and Matsu islands, archipelagos off the shore of mainland China which administratively belong to Taiwan.

The ugly face of African Swine Fever: An infected that washed ashore close to Taipei, in April 2021. - Photo: Taiwan Council of Agriculture
The ugly face of African Swine Fever: An infected that washed ashore close to Taipei, in April 2021. - Photo: Taiwan Council of Agriculture

The odd one out in the list of infected countries is Thailand, despite being surrounded by countries which all reported outbreaks of ASF. The country never reported the presence of ASF at all. Last week, however, the Vietnamese authorities said they stopped a Thai truck with ASF positive pigs at the border; the Thai authorities denied there had been traces of ASF in the shipment.

ASF Philippines: Emergency situation

In the Philippines, in the meantime, the ASF situation has spread to many islands of the archipelago. The situation is grave enough so the country’s president proclaimed an emergency situation early May to be able to easier deal with ASF. Cooperation is intensified and additional funds will be made available to fight the disease and rebuild the country’s herd. The virus can be found in Luzon (north), Visayas (middle) and Mindanao (south).