THE Agriculture Ministry has said while an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) was reported in the Dominican Republic on July 28, Trinidad and Tobago is "free of the ASF disease and there is no immediate threat to the well-being of this country’s livestock production."
The ministry also encouraged people to continue their normal consumption patterns of pork and pork-related products, as there are no health risks involved.
In a statement, the ministry said it is collaborating with the Health Ministry, Coast Guard and Customs and Excise Division and other stakeholders, to monitor ongoing developments with ASF and will update the public as required.
ASF is a highly contagious haemorrhagic viral disease found in pigs. The ministry said it has a mortality (death) rate of up to 100 per cent in pigs and can therefore have serious economic impacts in countries that rely heavily on pig production and pork exports.
The ministry advised people to take the necessary measures and follow certain guidelines to prevent the entry of ASF into TT.
Firstly, the ministry continued, ASF is a transboundary animal disease (TAD) which can be spread by live or dead pigs, and pork products.
"It can also be spread in food scraps and food waste generated by air and sea vessels."
The ministry also said transmission can also occur "via contaminated feed and fomites (non-living objects) such as shoes, clothes, vehicles, knives, equipment etc., due to the high environmental resistance of the ASF virus."
The ministry said people can have an important role in controlling the spread of ASF.
Currently, there is no approved vaccine or treatment for ASF, it said.
As a result, "Preventing entry of the disease relies heavily on strong border control and biosecurity measures that keep infected pigs and contaminated pork products out of TT."
For this reason, the ministry identified proper disposal of waste food from aircrafts, ships and vehicles and preventing the illegal entry of live pigs and pork products as key national prevention measures for ASF.
The ministry said ASF is not a food-borne human disease and people consuming pork products cannot contract the disease. While it cannot make people ill, the ministry said, "ASF can result in significant negative economic impacts and is a threat to national food security.
The ministry said ASF is highly resistant in the environment and in pork products, and the movement of people can also spread the disease to pigs.
It advised, "Do not feed uncooked meat, restaurant and other human food waste and swill to pigs."
The ministry advised people not to buy or import illegal live animals into TT, not to buy or import illegal meat products or potentially contaminated items, not to engage in the trade of illegal pork and pork products and not to feed pigs uncooked human food waste.
People are advised to contact the county veterinary office in their area if they see signs of illness in pigs For additional information on ASF, the ministry advised people to visit its website at https://agriculture.gov.tt/