Wed, Jan 09, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Track pigs with GPS, vets say

QUARANTINE LOOPHOLES:It is difficult to require hog farms to install GPS devices, given that smaller farmers use their vehicles for various purposes, an official said

By Lin Chia-nan and Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporters

Pigs are pictured in a pen on a pig farm in Hualien County on Sunday.

Photo: CNA

The Council of Agriculture should require vehicles transporting pigs to install GPS devices for retroactive tracking in the event that African swine fever enters the nation, veterinary experts said yesterday.

Since China reported the first infection in early August last year, the council has been increasing its quarantine measures against the disease, while experts continue to identify possible loopholes.

At a meeting with council officials yesterday, academics urged the council to close quarantine loopholes and brace for the worst-case scenario if unfortunately the disease enters the nation.

The disease can be latent for up to 15 days and the council should think about how to track transmission if any infection is reported, National Chung Hsing University Department of Animal Science dean Chen Chih-feng (陳志峰) said, adding that the fight against the disease could last for decades.

Chen suggested pig transportation vehicles install GPS devices, which was seconded by many other experts.

While environmental authorities have required vehicles at meat processing plants to install such devices, it is more difficult to require hog farms to do so, given that smaller farms use their vehicles for various purposes, including delivering groceries, Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine official Peng Ming-hsing (彭明興) said.

Chinese Culture University Department of Animal Science dean Lo Ling-ling (羅玲玲) also urged the council to conduct surveys of pet pigs and wild pigs nationwide, as they are also virus transmission channels.

National Taiwan University veterinary medicine professor Chou Chin-cheng (周晉澄) said there are insufficient sniffer dogs to identify illegal meat imports at customs.

Council of Agriculture Deputy Minister Huang Chin-cheng (黃金城) said there are 47 sniffer dogs on duty at customs, adding that the council is seeking a larger budget from the Executive Yuan for sniffer dog training.

As illegal pork products are often carried by Chinese visitors, their check-in luggage would be gathered on the same carousels at airports for checks, he said.

While the content of check-in luggage would be scanned by X-ray devices, not all carry-on luggage items would undergo examination, especially as customs officials at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport only sample a few for checks, Huang said.

To plan for more comprehensive quarantine measures, the council is to meet with customs and airport representatives tomorrow, Peng said.

Meanwhile, the Taipei Animal Protection Office yesterday said that the examination of the body of a dead pig found in downtown Taipei on Monday showed that it was not infected with African swine fever.

The dead musk pig weighing about 150kg was found in Lane 632, Heping E Road Sec 3 in Daan District (大安) at about 11am on Monday, the office said.

As the carcass was slightly swollen and redness was observed on its abdominal area, the carcass was sent to the Animal Health Research Institute for examination.

Disinfection measures were taken at the site, the office said, adding that about 50 pigs being raised at National Taiwan University College of Bioresources and Agriculture’s Experimental Farm, within a 3km radius of the site, showed no signs of illness.

The office urged people to report finding a dead pig or suspected pork products imported from areas where African swine fever is spreading by calling the 1999 public service hotline in Taipei or the council’s smuggling prevention hotline at 0800-039-131.

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