Deadly pig virus that’s wiped out Asian herds killing Indonesian hogs

JAKARTA: The deadly African swine fever sweeping across Asia has spread to Indonesia, reaching a region with more than a million pigs.

Almost 400 backyard farms in Sumatera Utara – a province home to 1.2 million hogs – have been struck by the virus since September, leading to 28,000 pig deaths, the Rome-based World Organisation for Animal Health said on Tuesday.

While the source of the infection isn’t known, it’s suspected to have spread during the transportation of live animals and may be from contaminated feed or animal handlers.

The finding in Asia’s ninth-largest pork producer follows significant outbreaks across the continent, highlighting how difficult it has become to contain the fatal disease.

A United Nations gauge of global meat prices has surged this year and rising food costs in some of the biggest emerging markets are posing a possible inflation threat.

Indonesia is isolating infected areas from hog trade and the distribution of meat to other regions, said Fadjar Sumping Tjatur Rassa, director of animal health at the agriculture ministry. The country isn’t mandating farmers that cull hogs.

Indonesian authorities had said they were investigating a possible outbreak last month after finding almost 5,000 dead pigs.

Malaysia has already banned pork products from Indonesia as a precaution against the virus, The Star reported this week.