COLOMBIA - The authorities in Colombia are working to help pig farmers bring the current outbreaks of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED) under control, focusing on unauthorised slaughterhouses and the vehicles that transport the animals and risk spreading the virus further.
A month after its first appearance in Colombia, the veterinary health authorities say they have managed to contain outbreaks of PED, mainly in the regions of Cundinamarca and Huila, reports La Nación.
The severity of the disease has required extreme control measures to contain it to the 18 outbreaks in Huila and not let is spread more widely.
According to the latest report from the official authority, the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA), outbreaks of disease that affects only pigs are controlled according to the preliminary diagnostic tests and epidemiological research is still underway in the affected areas.
According to ICA disease is present in the departments of Huila and Cundinamarca, affecting numerous hog farms.
Since the first appearance of PED in the country, ICA ordered quarantine of affected premises. The measure involves restricting the movement of animals to and from these farms under pre-established protocols as well as thorough cleaning and disinfection of the premises.
Epidemiological surveillance and monitoring are continuing in both affected areas and neighbouring municipalities.
The work of the ICA has allowed outbreaks of the disease to be contained, according to the ICA's CEO, Luis Humberto Martínez Lacouture.
On 10 March 2014, ICA declared the situation a national health emergency so that the necessary sanitary measures for the prevention, control and eradication of the disease.
As a precaution, all events that involves the concentration of animals of any kind in any of the municipalities affected areas have been suspended.
The regional manager of ICA, Tito Alberto Suarez, confirmed to La Nación that the disease is under controlled but reiterated that the measures will be maintained.
This work has involved a team of 12 staff, 10 technicians and two veterinarians, to identify possible new outbreaks and prevent their spread.
The official stressed the cooperation of pork producers, who have reported suspected cases.
Mr Suarez added that some suspected new cases have been ruled out.
The presence of the PED virus has alerted health authorities, who have increased their efforts to clamp down on clandestine abattoirs and other unauthorised slaughterings. Police units coordinated by the health ministries have intensified their controls.
One way of spreading the virus is in vehicles transporting pigs to slaughterhouses so unauthorised sites spread the disease, explained the manager of Ceagrodex, Jimeno García Durán.
The report in La Nación adds that as there is no vaccine against PED, pork producers must apply good biosecurity practices to reduce risk
ICA adds that PED poses no risk to public health or food safety.
However, producers are faced with the prospect of high pig mortalities in the coming weeks and supplied of pork could be limited for the coming festival of San Pedro, when traditionally, dishes based on this meat are served.
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