An outbreak of African swine fever—a highly contagious viral pig disease has hit Nsanje district and has so far killed about 400 pigs in four weeks.
Programme manager for Shire Valley Agricultural Development Division (ADD) Jerome Nkhoma confirmed the development on Wednesday, but said “the situation is under control.”
The disease is believed to have originated from neighbouring Mozambique and was first reported around Chief Ndamera’s area before spreading to other areas like that of Chief Chimombo.
Nkhoma said government has since put in place several precautionary measures, including a ban on the movement and slaughtering of pigs, to contain the disease, which does not affect humans, from further spreading.
He said: “We are advising farmers to manage their animals by not letting them out. We are also sensitising the communities to refrain from buying pork anyhow or from undesignated selling points.”
The programme manager also said government has intensified sensitisation meetings in non-affected areas such as Chikwawa, which is yet to register any case, so that they remain free from the outbreak.
Government also confirmed an outbreak of foot and mouth disease—another highly contagious viral disease that mostly affects cattle—in the district which is yet to be declared free.
The main clinical signs of swine fever are fever, loss of appetite, lack of energy, sudden death and red or dark skin, particularly on the ears and snout. Others are swollen red eyes and also laboured breathing and coughing.
The first laboratory diagnosis of African Swine Fever in Malawi was in 1961 after the first outbreak was reportedly described in Kenya in 1921 and it remained restricted to Africa until 1957 when it was reported in Portugal.