Consumers of pork in Kigali and its environs risk eating contaminated meat as errant farmers continue to release pigs infected with swine erysipelas to the market.
The Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) recently sounded an alarm about the outbreak found in districts such as Nyagatare, Kirehe, Kicukiro, Gasabo, Rwamagana, where farmers have already lost many pigs to the disease.
However, in a rush to cash in and avoid losses, errant farmers have gone against RAB strict warnings, to silently sell infected pigs to unsuspecting buyers.
Swine erysipelas is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, found mainly in growing pigs and characterised clinically by fever, skin lesions and arthritis and sudden death.
“It is true there is an outbreak of swine erysipelas, which is quickly spreading in different parts of the country, it is not in category A to warrant a quarantine so it was not necessary for us to announce one. But from the look of things we could end up issuing one since unscrupulous farmers are continuing to sell infected pigs to cash in quickly which is dangerous,” said Fabrice Ndayisenga, the head of animal resource research and technology transfer at RAB.
He said even though the disease is treatable using amoxycillin or phenoxy-methyl penicillin put in drinking water, or penicillin injection twice in the first 24 hours and continuing daily injections for three to four days, for acute cases, many farmers are not treating their infected pigs, with those attempting treatment not competing the dosage.
All the medicines are available in all districts and the government is carrying out free testing and vaccination, but many pig farmers are not responding.
“Selling and eating this meat is dangerous, it pauses a public health risk, all meat from sick animals can cause health issues, this one could manifest delayed effects but they are there” he observed.
“There is one woman we are following up who sold her infected pigs to Rubavu after some of her pigs died, we are discussing to see if we should institute a quarantine, but this would affect the entire value chain even those that are not infected, that’s why we haven’t yet”.
Over the past two decades, consumption of pork has increased across the country leading to a rise in pig farming.