“A deadly disease is knocking on our door – and our Government seems asleep at the wheel”
Leading Australian animal rights organisation calls for immediate answers on welfare plans for deadly pig disease, African Swine Fever
Sydney, 3 October: With the stark and terrifying reality of the rapid global spread of African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV), now only 650 kms from Australia’s Northern Territory, the disease on our doorstep has confirmed outbreaks as close as East Timor. Australia’s close association with South-East Asia has led Lynda Stoner, Animal Liberation’s Chief Executive, to call for “straight answers from the Federal government.”
“We have all watched over many months the spread of this cruel, deadly and highly contagious disease killing both domestic and wild pigs throughout Asia, Africa and European countries. We know efforts to contain the spread have largely failed. Australia has now been identified as a ‘hotspot’ and we need to better understand the what plans our government has in place for any Australian outbreak,” Ms. Stoner said today.
The viral disease results in high mortality rates. Around 80% of infected pigs and many millions more have died or have been culled, many by cruel and inhumane methods. It is estimated that in China alone, half of the pig population could be killed by the end of the year; a shocking total of 200 million animals in just one of the now many impacted countries skirting the borders of Australia.
“The risk to Australia is extremely serious and yet, alarmingly, since border checks were increased Customs officers have seized a shocking 23 tonnes of pork from countries affected with the disease. An alarming percentage of these tested positive for the virus,” Ms. Stoner explained. “No one wants to see this deadly epidemic taking hold here in Australia, but we need to know the details our government plans should it reach our shores. Australia has 2,700 pig producers. The majority of pigs raised in Australia are kept in intensive facilities where they are closely confined in sheds, which themselves are cesspits of disease, misery and are an inherent biosecurity danger. At around six months of age, most of these very young pigs are transported long distances, often interstate, to slaughterhouses equipped to kill with the very cruel and painful Co2 gas stunning.”
Roscoe Osborne, Animal Liberation’s Campaigns Manager said, “to date, our government has expressed concern for the pig producers and its estimated 36,000 workers – but we are yet to see our government address the corresponding animal welfare issues. ASFV-infected pigs suffer dreadfully from many symptoms including, haemorrhagic fever, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhoea, nose and eye discharge, difficulty breathing and convulsions. Those who don’t die are usually culled regardless because of the serious risk that they might further spread the disease”.
There is currently no known cure for ASFV and there is no vaccine commercially available. It is listed as a disease of international significance by the OIE World Organisation for Animal Health. It spreads easily by direct contact between pigs or indirectly through contact with contaminated items such as feed, equipment, vehicles, clothing or footwear. It can also be spread by meat from contaminated animals and vectors such as ticks.
“Should ASFV reach Australia, what the public need to know is how our government will manage the welfare of Australian pigs who are infected and what methods of culling and carcass disposal has been planned,” maintained Mr. Osborne.
Contact: Roscoe Osborne | (02) 9262 3221 |