More than 900 pigs have been culled in the outlying county of Penghu after some hogs on the auction block at the county’s meat market earlier this week were found to have blisters on their mouths, the Council of Agriculture said in a statement.
After the discovery, managers at the market moved quickly to try to contain the outbreak. They immediately slaughtered all 30 pigs that were in the same truck compartment as the first infected animals, and disinfected the market’s holding pens and equipment.
The county government then announced a suspension of the meat trade and a ban on the movement of cloven-hoofed animals throughout the county, pending an investigation of the cause of the outbreak.
Initial tests on samples collected from the ailing pigs showed that they were infected with an O-type foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) virus, said Huang Kuo-ching (黃國青), deputy director of the council’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine.
As the investigation unfolded, authorities determined that the infected pigs came from Penghu’s largest hog ranch, Huang said.
County officials found other pigs at that ranch showing symptoms of FMD.
Huang said his bureau immediately ordered the slaughter of every pig at the ranch. As of Wednesday noon, 969 pigs had been culled.
The council brought soldiers in Penghu to assist with the slaughter and burial of the carcasses.
The bureau has also widened its probe to two farms located within a 3km radius from the original ranch, but found none of their pigs showing FMD symptoms.
Huang said his bureau would continue monitoring conditions at those two farms.
In the wake of the latest FMD outbreak in Penghu, Huang said, his bureau will launch checks on hog, cattle and goat ranches throughout Taiwan to prevent the spread of the disease.
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