What is African Swine Fever? Malaysia bans pork import from Indonesia as deadly virus spreads

The African Swine Fever is a deadly virus which infects pigs and can be spread from direct contact with animals

Malaysia has banned Indonesia's pork to prevent the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF). The southeast Asian country's Deputy Agricultural Minister Sim Tze Tzin said such a measure aimed to provide bio-security after the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reported ASF cases in Indonesia and ten other countries.

"We have taken steps to ban all pork-related products from infected countries. We urge Malaysians to be vigilant in the battle against the outbreak and refrain from buying imported pork-related products," the minister said in Bayan Baru, Penang, according to Malaymail.

Besides Indonesia, ASF has infected North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, China, Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Camboja, and East Timor since August 2018.

Indonesia chose not to declare ASF epidemic instantly


According to the Indonesian Veterinarian Association (PDHI) chairman Muhammad Munawaroh, Indonesia chose not to hurriedly announce the ASF outbreak due to the virus' impact on the country's pork export. "The government's concern is only one when the outbreak is declared, Indonesia cannot export," Munawaroh told Tagar.

He added that the PDHI study showed that the ASF caused tens of thousands of dead pigs in North Sumatera. However, the government claimed the ASF was not the main cause of death. Munawaroh further urged the government to declare the outbreak to take preventive measures and tackle the virus' spread. Also, Indonesia still can export pork as other pork-producing regions such as Batam is still safe from the virus.

African swine fever: A brief overview

African Swine Fever (ASF) is a deadly virus infecting pigs. The virus can be transmitted from direct contact with infected animals. There have been no vaccines for this virus so far. However, this virus can also live for months in processed meat and years in frozen pork. Therefore, meat products are scrutinized for cross-border transmission.

Clinical symptoms can vary depending on the virulence of viruses and pigs. Most severe signs include appetite loss, high fever, anorexia, breathing difficulty, vomiting, and diarrhoea. In this case, the mortality rate can reach 100 percent, according to the World Organization for Animal Health.

The ASF outbreak has forced China to slaughter its domestic pigs and import pork from the European Union. Between January to April 2019, pork shipment from the EU rose 37 percent, official data showed. China has slaughtered more than one million pigs, the government data stated. However, the estimated was said to be too low.

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