AS THE viral disease continues to spread across southeast Asia, Indonesia has reported its first outbreak of African Swine Fever, with reports yesterday of up to 4000 pigs dying at several sites near Medan, in Northern Sumatra.
The Medan Veterinary Centre yesterday confirmed that the infected animals had succumbed to ASF virus.
While Indonesia’s predominantly Muslim population does not eat pork, it is the protein of choice among substantial numbers of ethnic Chinese, Christians, Hindus and other denominations across the country.
According to estimates made by Indonesia’s Statistics Bureau, the country produced about 330,000 tonnes of pork meat last year, with the Hindu enclave of Bali being the largest producer. North Sumatra produced about 43,000t last year.
Initially, hog cholera, a disease behind a pig sickness outbreak in 1993 was suspected, but after extensive testing, the director general of animal disease and health with Indonesia’s ministry of agriculture confirmed the disease as ASF, saying the virus had never existed previously in Indonesia. The agency has established monitoring posts in 38 districts.
North Sumatra is not far from other large pork eating populations in Singapore and parts of Malaysia. The detection in North Sumatra follows a similar ASF detection last month on Timor Leste, the sovereign state which borders Indonesia’s southern province of West Timor, just 650km from Australia.
Southeast Asia has seen a number of recent outbreaks of African Swine Fever, since it started decimating China’s pig herd, the world’s biggest, a year ago.
The year-long epidemic has slashed China’s pig herd by more than 60pc, pushing prices of the country’s favourite meat to record levels, as well as dragging other meat protein prices higher.