Wednesday August 21, 2019

Almost 5 Million Pigs in Asia Dies Because of Spread of African Swine Fever Over the Past Year

The contagious viral disease that affects domestic and wild pigs was first detected in Asia one year ago this month

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Pigs, Swine Fever, Asia
ASF has wiped out over 10 per cent of the pig population in China, Vietnam and Mongolia, and is also present in Cambodia, North Korea and Laos, FAO said, citing its latest figures. Pixabay

Almost 5 million pigs in Asia have now died or been culled because of the spread of African swine fever over the past year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Friday, warning Asian nations to keep strict control measures in place.

ASF has wiped out over 10 per cent of the pig population in China, Vietnam and Mongolia, and is also present in Cambodia, North Korea and Laos, FAO said, citing its latest figures.

The contagious viral disease that affects domestic and wild pigs was first detected in Asia one year ago this month. While not dangerous to humans, the disease causes up to 100 per cent fatality in pigs, leading to severe economic losses to the pig sector, FAO said.

With FAO support, other countries in the region are ramping up preparedness efforts to prevent further spreading of the disease, the UN agency said.

Pigs, Swine Fever, Asia
Almost 5 million pigs in Asia have now died or been culled because of the spread of African swine fever over the past year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Friday, warning Asian nations to keep strict control measures in place. Pixabay

“As there is no commercially available vaccine, we need to place greater emphasis on other disease counter efforts. Countries must be vigilant at borders – land, sea or air – in preventing the disease’s entrance and spread through the introduction of infected pigs or contaminated pork products. Outbreaks need to be reported immediately,” said FAO’s Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth.

“We are urging at-risk countries to implement effective biosecurity measures to prevent infected live pigs or contaminated pork products from crossing their borders,” he added.

On top of the Asian outbreak, Europe is currently experiencing a slowly-spreading epidemic among some of its wild pig population and some countries have introduced tight restrictions to limit the movement of wild pigs, FAO reported.

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ASF was first detected in Africa in the 1920s. (IANS)

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Most Effective Drug Used to Treat Malaria Becoming Ineffective in Parts of Southeast Asia

The report warns that the parasite Plasmodium falciparum — which causes the most lethal form of human malaria

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Drug, Malaria, Asia
FILE - A public health worker takes a blood sample from a woman to be tested for malaria in Bo Rai district, Trat provice, Thailand. VOA

Scientists warn the most effective drug used to treat malaria is becoming ineffective in parts of Southeast Asia — and unless rapid action is taken, it could lead to a global health emergency.

Writing in the Lancet journal, researchers from Thailand’s Mahidol University and Britain’s Oxford University say parasites that carry malaria are developing resistance to a key drug combination across multiple regions of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

The report warns that the parasite Plasmodium falciparum — which causes the most lethal form of human malaria — is becoming resistant to the first-choice drug, DHA-piperaquine, in parts of Southeast Asia, with patients seeing a failure rate of 50 percent or more.

The situation is so critical that scientists say the treatment should not be used in Cambodia, Vietnam and northeast Thailand, because it is ineffective and contributes to increased malaria transmission.

Drug, Malaria, Asia
Scientists warn the most effective drug used to treat malaria is becoming ineffective in parts of Southeast Asia — and unless rapid action is taken. Pixabay

New treatments must be considered, says Sterghios Moschos of the University of Northumbria.

“It might be opportune at this point in time to explore whether or not we should bring together different new classes of medications so that when the problem starts becoming more substantial, there is a solution potentially that works at the multi-drug level,” said Moschos.

The report says urgent action is now needed to eliminate falciparum malaria from the region — otherwise the resistant strains of the parasite could further spread to other parts of Asia and Africa, potentially causing global health emergency.

“All it takes is a ship with infected individuals, or a pool of water where mosquitoes are, getting into Africa and then slowly that parasite establishing a foothold,” he added. “The likely scenario, however, will be that improvement of health care on a day-to-day basis in Africa will create the opportunity for the parasite to evolve resistance.”

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Currently, malaria vaccine trials are under way in several African countries. But drug combinations like DHA-piperaquine remain vital in treating malaria — especially in countries with poor health systems.

Since 2014, global progress against malaria has stalled. There were an estimated 219 million cases and 435,000 related deaths in 2017, most of them children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa. (VOA)