Tboung Khmum province’s Animal Health Department director Ry Davin has been fired for neglecting to address the cause behind an outbreak of African Swine Fever as the disease is now suspected to have spread to yet a fifth province.
Chan Heng, deputy director of Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon’s cabinet, yesterday said Mr Davin was removed from his position earlier this week, citing the reason was due to neglecting to complete his duties in addressing the outbreak and permitting the import of pigs from neighbouring countries.
“The ministry has asked the provincial level to take action, remove him from his position and transfer him to the ministry’s central administration because he had permitted [the import of pigs] that lead to the outbreak of ASF,” he said.
Officials suspect that ASF has now spread to Kandal province, potentially making it the fifth province to be infected since April, following Ratanakiri, Tboung Khmum, Svay Rieng and Takeo provinces.
Mr Heng said officials will test the blood of pigs suspected to have died from ASF in Kandal province.
“We are now going to investigate and take the blood of the pigs that have died. If found positive, we will officially announce the outbreak in the area,” he said. “Currently, officials are working on the case.”
Bun Tuon Simona, Kandal’s provincial agriculture department director, said dozens of pigs in Sa’ang district’s Kraing Yov commune are suspected to have fallen sick and died due to the disease.
“We are currently culling the sick pigs and destroying the dead pigs,” he said. “The provincial governor and officials are now working on the case.”
In a press conference on the “African Swine Fever Outbreak Issue” yesterday, Tan Phannara, director of the General Animal Health and Production Department, said that since the outbreak of ASF in early April, 798 pigs were culled and hundreds of pigs have died from the disease.
“I cannot conclude yet whether the situation is serious, but it is not something to be taken lightly because the disease has spread and the virus leads to a quick death of the animal,” he said.
Mr Phannara added that the ministry would continue to take further action to prevent the disease from spreading to other areas.
According to a report of the Animal Health and Production Department presented at the press conference, 2,400 pigs in Ratanakiri province have died or been culled due to ASF. It also noted that 43 pigs died in Tboung Khmum province, 87 in Svay Rieng and 27 in Takeo province.
Mr Phannara also said over the past six months, the ministry’s intervention groups, along with authorities in the capital and provinces, have cracked down on 55 cases of pig imports from neighbouring countries, accumulating to nearly 1,500 pigs. He noted that those imports were not found with ASF.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan said that Cambodian law does not stipulate a provision of compensation to families whose livestock were affected by ASF, noting that Cambodia is a country that respects the free market process.
“At this stage, we do not plan to help support the families [that have raised pigs], but it does not mean that we won’t do it, it is a political decision,” he said. “But in legal principle, there is no sharing in the damage.”
He also called on the people raising pigs to work closely with agricultural officials and participate to prevent the spread of the disease to other areas.
Yi Sengdoeun, the Health Ministry’s Communicable Disease Control Department deputy director, confirmed that ASF only affects pigs and does not affect humans.