Sun, Mar 16, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Council downplays threat of hog disease outbreak

NOT EPIDEMIC:Antibiotics and vaccines are adequate treatment for the few, isolated cases of the bacterial disease, which are being monitored, the council said

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday downplayed recent cases of pigs infected by the infectious disease swine erysipelas as just a few, isolated cases that can be cured by antibiotics.

Reports of a possible outbreak of the disease in southern Taiwan were triggered by an announcement by the Swine Association on Facebook on Friday evening.

“Dear pig farmer partners, there is a phenomenon of swine erysipelas reported in southern Taiwan. Please enhance all health management and biological safety measures in your farms,” the announcement read.

The association also advised farmers not to deliberately fatten pigs for higher prices, advising that pigs should be sold at about 120kg to maintain the industry’s reputation and sustainable management.

The announcement triggered the already-high prices of pork to rise even further, following an outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea last year, and the reported stockpiling of pork by vendors.

The Council’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Bureau said yesterday that an investigation made by local agencies showed that there are only a few individual cases, and the agency will closely monitor the situation and provide prevention measures.

Bureau Deputy Director Chao Pan-hua (趙磐華) said the disease is infectious and caused by bacteria, mostly found in adult pigs, but that it is not required to be reported the World Organization for Animal Heath.

Antibiotics and vaccines are adequate treatments and can be provided to the swine farmers, Chao added.

Farms have been instructed to enforce strict disinfection measures for personnel and vehicles, and also to report any disease to local bureaus immediately to prevent further spreading.

Meanwhile, the council said it is monitoring wholesale prices of eggs, which rose to an all-time high last week.

According to a report by the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) on Friday, wholesale egg prices rose to NT$40 per Taiwanese jin (台斤, 600g) on Thursday last week, marking an all-time high.

The Poultry Association said the reason for the shortage of eggs — about 3,000 to 4,000 cases of eggs daily — was due to large fluctuations in temperatures at the egg sources.

The association said egg prices had risen to about NT$39 per jin in the past, because daily temperature fluctuations as great as 13?C had produced an egg shortage rate of about 5 percent.

The council, however, said the recent changing weather had led to a shortage of about 2,000 to 3,000 eggs daily last month, which led to a price increase.

Egg supply and average egg prices would return to normal when the weather becomes more stable, the council said.

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