PUTRAJAYA: Malaysian livestock are free from Nipah disease, says the Veterinary Services Department.
It said in a statement on Tuesday (Sept 26) that this is based on surveillance of 399 commercial pig samples until August, which yielded negative test results.
The Nipah disease is caused by infection of the Nipah virus, which can spread through direct contact with infected animals, air contaminated by respiratory droplets, secretions from the nose and mouth, or tissues from infected animals.
According to DVS, the Nipah disease was first detected in Malaysia in 1998, involving pig farms in Perak, which then spread to Negeri Sembilan. It caused significant losses to pig farmers and the national economy and claimed the lives of 105 people.
It said that massive eradication efforts involving various departments and agencies were carried out at that time, and by early 2001, Malaysia was declared free from Nipah disease by the World Organisation for Animal Health.
DVS said Malaysia continues to maintain its Nipah-free status through regular surveillance programmes.
According to the department, Nipah disease is listed as a Notifiable Disease under Section 31(1) of the Animals Act 1953.
It said that surveillance will continue to be carried out to ensure that the pig farming industry in Malaysia remains free from any disease threats and always takes precautionary measures to prevent zoonotic diseases, which can be transmitted to humans, from entering the country.
"Pig farmers are advised not to plant fruit trees in and around farm areas as it could attract wildlife, especially keluang (fruit bats), which have the potential to be natural hosts of the Nipah virus,” it said. - Bernama