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Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome - South Africa (Western Cape)

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  • Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome - South Africa (Western Cape)

    Date: Fri 31 Aug 2007
    Source: IOL (Independent Online, South Africa) [edited]
    < 41847979C813187>

    In order to combat the outbreak of a deadly porcine disease, 5000
    pigs from small farms in Caledon, Worcester, and Malmesbury will have
    to be culled during the next few weeks.
    But consumers won't have to
    cross bacon off their shopping lists: the Cape Pork Producers
    Association says that while the disease poses "no risk whatsoever" to
    humans, the meat from infected pigs will still not be made
    commercially available.

    The provincial department of agriculture said an outbreak of porcine
    reproductive and respiratory syndrome [PRRS] (more commonly known as
    blue ear disease) was 1st detected at a farm in Klapmuts about 2
    weeks ago.
    The veterinary services unit had been monitoring the
    situation, said Agriculture MEC (Member of the Executive Council)
    Cobus Dowry's spokesperson, Alie van Jaarsveld.

    Van Jaarsveld said Dowry had met the Pork Producers Association on
    Tuesday [28 Aug 2007] to discuss a way forward. Pigs on about 13
    farms were being tested for the disease, and results were expected
    from the state vet soon. "We're not sure of the specific strain (of
    the disease), and we don't want to guess at it,"
    said Van Jaarsveld.

    Mike Heramb, chairperson of the Cape Pork Producers Association, said
    his organisation had met an abattoir to discuss the culling of the
    pigs, which he hoped would start by the end of next week [3-9 Sep
    2007]. "We're in the process of getting the whole thing on track,"
    said Heramb. He said the disease was not necessarily fatal to pigs,
    but that it was devastating for pig farmers, because it affected
    sows' reproductive systems. "This is our 3rd attempt to curb this
    disease," said Heramb. "We haven't seen any sign of it for nearly 2
    He confirmed that the last outbreak had occurred in the same
    areas of the Western Cape [see ProMED 2004 archive below. -
    Mod.JW] Heramb said large commercial pig farms had not been affected
    because they purchased animals that were tested regularly for
    disease. "Small farmers buy whatever they can find. All the affected
    farms were "linked somehow", he said, as they bought and sold pigs to
    each other. He said a permit system, implemented 2 years ago, had
    enabled the association to track the infected pigs. The permit system
    was put in place after an outbreak of blue ear disease in
    Drakenstein, Klapmuts, Philippi, Emfuleni, and Malmesbury. All
    movements of pigs into and out of those areas required a "red" permit
    issued by the state vet's Boland or Malmesbury offices.

    The virus that causes blue ear disease was transmitted "from pig to
    pig", said Heramb. "We want to eliminate the disease." He said
    vaccinating pigs against blue ear disease was "very expensive", and
    that emerging farmers could not afford to vaccinate their
    animals. Pigs would be culled and their remains destroyed, said
    Heramb. "These pigs won't go on to the market."

    [Byline: Natasha Joseph]

    Communicated by:

    [For background on PRRS, its diagnosis, and vaccines, go to OIE's
    (World Organisation for Animal Health) manual, chapter 2.6.5 at

    A map of the Western Cape is available at
    - Mod.AS]