Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Updating Indonesia's Pig Die Off - FAO Comment


It has now been nearly 2 months since the first reports of unusual pig deaths (`Babi Mati') began to appear in the Indonesian press (see Indonesia: Media Reports Of Unexplained Pig Deaths In Multiple Regions), and while the size and scope of the crisis continues to escalate, the cause - at least officially - remains unknown.
As African Swine Fever (ASF) has more or less surrounded Indonesia over the past year (see map above), landing in Timor-Leste in September, unusual pig deaths must be taken seriously.  
But there are a great many other pig diseases that could be to blame, including including FMD, PED, PRRS, and Classical Swine Fever - along with a variety of environmental factors, such as excessive heat or contaminated feed.
While a generic `pig cholera' label (which usually refers to Classical Swine Fever (CSF)) is being used by media reports on this outbreak, tests we are told are still `pending'. 
A search of the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture Website (Kementan), for the Indonesia phrase `Demam Babi Afrika',  or African Swine Fever, returns  a single cautionary report - published last October - indicating authorities are preparing for ASF's potential arrival.

Meanwhile, reports of hundreds of dead pigs being thrown into rivers and lakes in North Sumatra continue fill Indonesia's media, along with photos of mass graves filled with pig carcasses.

A few recent examples:

Because of Swine Carcass Dumped in the River, Fish Sales in Medan Down - 4/12/2019, 14:38 pm

Artikel ini telah tayang di dengan judul "Because of Swine Carcass Dumped in the River, Fish Sales in Medan Down",
Penulis : Contributor Medan, Devantoro
Editor : David Oliver Purba
Because of Swine Carcass Dumped in the River, Fish Sales in Medan Down - - 4/12/2019, 14:38 pm

16 districts in North Sumatra Cholera Infected Pigs How Step anticipation?- Liputan 6  4 Dec, 2019, Medan - Until now the hog cholera virus or pig cholera spread to 16 districts in North Sumatra (North Sumatra). The North Sumatra Provincial Government (North Sumatra Provincial Government) noted that up to now there are 10,289 dead pigs.
(Continue . . . )

While an official explanation remains elusive, we do have a very brief comment by the FAO in their most recent ASF situation in Asia update (dated Nov 28th, but only recently available online), indicating they are aware of the problem and investigating:

Additional news on unusual pig deaths

Indonesia: Unconfirmed information about swine deaths continues. More than 10,351 pigs were said to have died in North Sumatra. FAO is liaising with the Directorate General of Livestock and Animal Health Services, Indonesia to confirm the cause and explore needs [reference].
Nearly a month ago (November 8th), in Indonesia: Media Reports Of Positive ASF Test Results In North Sumatra, we saw numerous headlines announcing that ASF had been identified as the culprit behind these die offs.
Indonesia suspects outbreak of African swine fever  - Reuters

Indonesia reports first African Swine Fever outbreak - Beef Central 
More than 4,000 pigs in Indonesia allegedly die of deadly African virus - Xinhua 
It is not clear why nearly a month later, we still have no official confirmation of these reports. Lab testing for ASF and CSF is fairly straightforward, even if samples had to be sent to a reference lab outside of Indonesia.
While African Swine Fever (and Classical Swine Fever) do not pose a direct health threat to humans, they can be 100% fatal in pigs, devastate local economies, and can increase food insecurity. 
Whether Indonesia is dealing with ASF, CSF, or some other deadly pig disease, the crisis continues to grow.  Hopefully we'll get better information in the days ahead.

Stay tuned.