Association urges pig farmers to improve biosecurity
JOHOR BARU: Although no Nipah cases have been reported in Malaysia since 1999, fear of the virus continues to linger in the minds of pig farmers in the country.
Federation of Livestock Farmers’ Associations of Malaysia president Tan Chee Hee said the Nipah virus has always been a cause of concern for pig farmers, especially those who witnessed the outbreak more than two decades ago.
“The farmers will be the first people to be infected by the virus if there is an outbreak in this country and we have seen this before in the past.
“This has always been of concern to those in the industry, even more so when there are reports of any outbreak in any other parts of the world, including India.
“However, I believe that everyone – from the government to the farmers – are already on high alert although there has yet to be any case reported in Malaysia at the moment,” he said in an interview.
The Nipah virus was named after Sungai Nipah in Negri Sembilan where it was first identified in 1998 among the pig farms, which led to the culling of one million pigs.
Last Saturday, Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa confirmed that no Nipah cases have been detected in Malaysia since the last one was recorded on May 27, 1999.
The Nipah outbreak between September 1998 and May 1999 saw 265 cases, including 105 fatalities.
The association, said Tan, has been urging pig farmers to improve their biosecurity as a way of preventing the spread of diseases in their farms.
“Besides Nipah virus, the African Swine Fever (ASF) is another infection that is of great concern among farmers. It was estimated that about half of the industry was affected by ASF.
“To prevent the outbreak and spread of ASF, along with other diseases, we have told farmers to improve their biosecurity measures, including sanitising, thorough cleaning and preventing the entry of outsiders.
“We have also been conducting workshops as part of an effort to educate pig farmers on biosecurity measures and we can see that they are now implementing these,” he said, adding that so far no new ASF cases have been reported among the pig farms recently.
Malaysia was declared free of Nipah virus in 2001 by the World Organisation for Animal Health.