PHNOM PENH, July 11 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia has culled 798 pigs so far in order to contain the highly contagious African swine fever that has broken out in four provinces since early April, officials said on Thursday.
In addition to the hogs culled at the infected areas, the virus had killed more than 1,000 other pigs, Director General of the General Directorate of Animal Health and Production Tan Phannara said, adding that it was estimated that farmers averagely lost about 200 U.S. dollars per pig.
"Now, we're trying our best to prevent the virus from spreading to other areas," Phannara said. "However, I think it will not soon slow down."
Pig demand for consumption in Cambodia is about 5,000 a day, he said, adding that local pig farms can meet only 81 percent of the demand, as the remainder is imported from Thailand because a ban on pig imports from Vietnam is still in place.
"So far, the price of live pigs in Cambodia is still stable at 11,000 riels (2.7 U.S. dollars) per kg," Phannara said.
Nou Vonika, a senior expert at the General Directorate of Animal Health and Production, said the African swine fever was traced as far back as 1907, although the first identified outbreak was in Kenya in 1921.
"African swine fever does not harm humans, but it kills hogs," he said, adding that the mortality rate in infected pigs is 100 percent.
He said although the virus has appeared for about 100 years, there has been no vaccine or medicine for treating the disease.
Vonika said the virus was first discovered in Cambodia in early April in backyard pigs in Ratanakiri province before spreading to some areas in Tboung Khmum, Svay Rieng, and Takeo provinces.
Government Spokesman Phay Siphan said that the virus has so far hit pigs raised by villagers only, and not yet affected large-scale pig farms.
Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon has subsequently issued statements, ordering animal health officials to place the outbreak zones under surveillance and to closely monitor the virus within a 10-km radius of the affected zones.
"Buying, selling and transporting live pigs, pig meats and pork-made products within a three-km radius of the outbreak areas must be suspended," he said in the latest statement on Monday.