African Swine Fever (ASF) has once again spread in some parts of North Korea, Daily NK has learned.
“Livestock disease prevention authorities are on high alert as the disease is once again spreading throughout the country,” a South Pyongan-based source told Daily NK on May 4.
“The situation is especially serious in North Hwanghae Province and North and South Pyongan provinces,” the source said.
“The disease is affecting pig populations on collective farms along with those owned by private individuals. The fatality rate of the disease has almost reached one hundred percent, leaving barely any pigs left,” the source added.
Pigs who have caught ASF are suffering from miscarriages, which has made it difficult for breeders to acquire piglets. Miscarriages are one of the major symptoms of pigs infected with ASF.
In May of last year, North Korea reported only one case of African Swine Fever to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). At the time, North Korea reported that one case of the disease had been found at a cooperative farm in Usi County, Chagang Province. According to the report, 77 of the 99 pigs at the farm died of the disease, while another 22 were culled.
Since then, North Korea has not reported any other cases of the disease.
North Korean authorities, however, have recently continued to issue guidelines regarding the prevention of ASF, which suggests that the disease continues to impact the country’s pig population.
For instance, Rodong Sinmun published several articles in February and March stressing the importance of animal disease prevention.
Experts say that ASF has likely spread throughout North Korea. They argue that the poor disease control monitoring on the Sino-North Korean border has created an excellent environment for the spread of the disease.
In fact, around 550 wild pigs have already been found to be infected with the virus around the inter-Korean border. This has led to speculation that a considerable amount of boars may be infected with the disease around the Sino-North Korean border.
Moreover, the lack of administrative control over breeding and butchery practices in North Korea makes it more likely for the disease to take hold there.
“Official party policy encourages people to breed pigs and around 2.5 million households are estimated to be raising one to three pigs at home. It’s also not uncommon for the pigs to be fed leftover [human] food,” the South Pyongan Province-based source said.
“Pigs are butchered in a disorganized manner and the butchering often takes place near village wells, rivers, lakes, and streams,” the source continued.
“Infected pigs are not thrown away. On the contrary, every single part of the pig is used for cooking, including the blood and organs. These parts also end up being distributed at local markets,” he added.
North Korean authorities recommend that pigs for sale have a veterinary certificate proving their good health and advise against buying pork meat which does not have this certificate. These guidelines, however, are not likely adhered to properly in many cases.
*Translated by Gabriela Bernal
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