PUTRAJAYA: Blood samples taken from animals in 20 pig farms in Kampung Selamat, Penang, showed no sign of the Japanese Encephalitis (JE) virus, said the Department of Veterinary Services.
The samples, totalling 181 taken on Tuesday, were analysed at the Veterinary Research Institute in Ipoh.
The department then widened its surveillance to 179 other pig farms in Penang.
Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri said the move was necessary to trace the source of the virus.
“Now that the pigs in the main suspected area have been cleared, we have to widen the search for the source. Apart from continuing to take blood samples from the pigs, we will also take samples from other animals, including waterfowls and maybe pets. This will be done at random,” he told newsmen here yesterday.
Department director-general Datuk Dr Mohamad Azmie Zakaria said the department would continue to monitor all farms in the state.
As for pigs in Kampung Selamat, he said no live animals were allowed to leave the area, pointing out that only slaughtered meat could be taken out.
Dr Mohamad Azmie said surveillance and blood samples would continue to be taken until the source of the virus was found.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry said it would consider introducing JE vaccination for children in Penang, similar to the programme being carried out in Sarawak, if necessary.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said vaccination might be necessary if JE cases in Penang continued to go up.
“We will study very carefully and make a decision,” he told a press conference after visiting the Sarawak General Hospital in Kuching yesterday.
A committee comprising representatives from the ministry, the veterinary department and local authorities has been set up to oversee the situation in Penang.
“We will discuss what other steps need to be taken after evaluating how effective the current control measures are,” Dr Subramaniam said.
In George Town, Penang’s Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, Rural Development and Health Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin has confirmed three JE cases in different areas – George Town, Bagan Jermal and Tasek Gelugor.
“There are no pig farms in the first two areas,” he said.