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Meera Bhardwaj

With the shocking serial deaths of wild boars reported from Bhadra Tiger Reserve, now the death of a huge number of domestic pigs have been reported from Bhalki taluk of Bidar district in Karnataka. Preliminary investigations after postmortem has revealed that it is due to Classical Swine Fever (CSF). 

Bidar district officials say that the problem started two months back, however, it was contained with vaccination and other necessary measures. Now with this outbreak, wildlife experts say that there is a possibility of CSF spreading to wild boars with serious consequences for conservation.

After an intervening period in the aftermath of the first case, the death of a large number of pigs started a few days back at Donagapur village some 30 kilometers from Kalasdal village where earlier 200 pigs had succumbed to CSF. The tendency of the farmers to dump infected pigs outside their farms or leave them on the roads is prevalent in the villages so the gram panchayats were advised to take all measures to bury the dead pigs, officials said.

Two months back, when a huge number of pigs died in a private farm at Kalasdal village, all necessary measures were taken after it was diagnosed as CSF. There was no problem for many days as thorough vaccination was carried out in the affected area. But now an outbreak has occurred where we are seeing two or three animals dying at different spots. “We have taken all precautions and once again differential diagnosis confirmed that it was CSF and so vaccination is being carried out”, said Dr Sarvadnya, Ghondge, veterinary officer, Bidar.”

CSF or hog cholera (also sometimes called pig plague based on the German word Schweinepest) is a highly contagious disease of swine (Old World and New World pigs) and it is mentioned as a potential bioweapon, informs Dr HS Prayag, wildlife veterinary expert. Analysis done by vets has revealed that CSF has spread in Bidar amid one species of the Suidae family that is the domestic pigs. CSF is highly contagious and it spreads rapidly when infected pigs come in contact with susceptible ones. Culling of animals is usually done on infected farms followed by cleaning and disinfection and proper disposal of dead pigs.

The chances of CSF spreading to wild boars is definitely a possibility but its spread to other species is very less unless it is of the same family. The Suidae family comprises 8 genera and 16 species and they include wild boars, warthogs, pygmy hogs and domestic pigs. The cloven hooved ungulates are closely related to the hippopotamuses family.

After clinical findings, vets have continued with the necessary treatment while alert has been sounded to district officials. Since the density of pig population is high, the infection spreads very fast. Most farmers just leave the infected animals outside on roads and wayside. Awareness is very less while the farmer says it is not his pigs and so carcasses are not even buried. But the village gram panchayat have been told to carry out all measures to bury the carcasses.

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