April 4, 2005
2nd outbreak of Blue ear disease in South Africa
Pig farmers in South Africa's Western Cape region may face financial ruin following the second outbreak of Blue ear disease among their animals.
Hundreds of pigs have been destroyed after one large commercial piggery and several smaller farms have tested positive for the disease that spreads through the air.
The highly infectious disease attacked the respiratory and reproductive systems, causing pregnant pigs to abort foetuses and coughing in younger pigs. There is no danger to people even if they have eaten infected pork.
The virus was first detected in South Africa a year ago but has been prevalent in the US and Europe for about 10 years.
Western Cape director of veterinary services Dr Gideon Bruckner said a scientific risk assessment was needed to determine future control of the disease, so there would not be an intensive eradication campaign. However, farmers in affected areas would be asked to slaughter their pigs as soon as they reached a marketable age and weight.