May 19, 2020
ASF brings mass pig deaths in North Korean farms
African Swine Fever (ASF) has caused mass pig deaths at farms in North Korea's South Hwanghae Province and North Hamgyong Province, alerting the central government to take action, reported Daily NK.
"Livestock disease[s] are spreading rapidly throughout the province," a South Hwanghae Province-based source stated on Monday. "The authorities have issued an order through the cabinet that livestock disease control authorities send investigation teams made up of around 20 people to all the farms with outbreaks."
From early May, pigs at farms in Haeju and Anak County started issuing bloody froth from their snouts and mouths before collapsing onto the ground. Around 10 pigs in one pig pen died from the disease, setting off alarm bells among the country's livestock disease control authorities.
There were similar mass deaths at farms in North Hamgyong Province, including in Gyongsong and Musan counties and in Chongjin. These cases were immediately reported to the authorities.
"On May 6, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued an order to the provincial, municipal and county people's committees to have disease control officials thoroughly disinfect and quarantine all livestock, cremate all deceased animals and submit reports on progress of the disease control process," said a North Hamgyong Province-based source.
North Korean authorities have reportedly continued to emphasise that it is forbidden to consume the meat of the diseased livestock, in what appears to be a response to rumours saying that ASF and other infectious diseases affecting livestock are similar to the "common cold"—meaning, essentially, that eating the meat is safe.
Despite orders from the North Korean government to cremate the infected livestock or to bury them alive, these directives have frequently been disregarded. North Koreans reportedly sell infected meat at local markets or butcher the meat themselves to eat at home.
North Korean authorities attribute the further spread of infectious diseases in part to the fact that when the infected pork is consumed at individual homes and the scraps are tossed, the scraps eventually wind up as animal feed, continuing the cycle of infection.
Accordingly, the authorities have taken strong measures to monitor livestock farm workers, reasoning that they must be held responsible for ensuring that the diseased livestock are properly handled.
"The authorities are threatening that the theft of disease livestock [to sell at local markets or to eat] will be designated an act of treason, in the sense that such acts undermine the party's disease control measures," said the source.
Daily NK reported last week that some 6,000 ducks, geese, pigs, goats and sheep died of infectious diseases at a livestock complex in Kangwon Province.