African swine fever in the Dominican Republic; Army called in to eliminate thousands of pigs
Alert in the Americas after the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory confirmed African swine fever (ASF) in samples collected from pigs in the Dominican Republic. ASF has forced China to cull millions of pigs since there is no vaccine to prevent the disease which is also highly contagious.
Besides the normal safeguards in place, pork and pork products from the Dominican Republic are currently prohibited from entering the US, and additionally the Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection is increasing inspections of flights from that country to ensure travelers do not bring any of the prohibited products to the US. Additionally it is also ensuring that garbage from airplanes are properly disposed of to prevent any ASF transmission.
Mexico has imposed similar sanitary limitations and epidemiological inspections, and in the Dominican Republic the Army has been called in to help with the elimination of pigs where the outbreaks have been registered. Apparently the outbreak, following on 389 samples of pigs, indicates that the highly contagion disease was localized in ”a small production of backyard pigs from the provinces of Sánchez Ramíreza and Montecristi, according to a statement from the Santo Domingo ministry of agriculture.
The plan implemented in the Dominican Republic is a ban on all transportation of pigs, and the termination of the herds acting on successive rings. The problem is that tourism in one of the main industries of the country which means a great movement of people. The Dominican Republic has an estimated population of twelve million and shares the island territory with Haiti.
More than 15,000 pig farmers send to the slaughterhouse about 100,000 pigs per month in the Dominican Republic, which shows that the pig sector in the country is “big and strong.” In addition, it generates more than 300,000 jobs in the country.
Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian with the United States National Pork Producers Council, said, “We are thankful for steps taken by the USDA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, including strengthened border inspection and the implementation of an active surveillance program designed to quickly detect and eradicate ASF. These measures are particularly important now that ASF has been detected in the Western hemisphere for the first time in approximately 40 years.”
The release adds that “vacation and other travelers to the Dominican Republic should know that it is illegal to transport specialty meat products or other agriculture products from the Dominican Republic to the United States.”