BANGKOK — Livestock authorities on Tuesday confirmed the detection of African swine fever (ASF) in Thailand.
Sorravis Thaneto, director of the Department of Livestock Development, said the virus was found in a surface swab sample collected at a slaughterhouse in Nakhon Pathom province.
While no virus was found in blood samples collected from pig herds in the province, he said officials are conducting investigation to trace the source of the disease which might be attributed to the ongoing shortage of pig supply.
An outbreak zone within five kilometer radius of the slaughterhouse will also be declared to limit livestock movements, Sorravis added.
“We will notify the World Organization for Animal Health and its member states,” Sorravis said. “The African swine fever does not transmit to humans or other animals. Cooked pork can still be safely consumed.”
The detection marks Thailand’s first official confirmation of the disease, which has swept through parts of Europe and Asia in recent years and devastated swine industries in the affected countries.
Authorities had previously denied a local outbreak of ASF and attributed most of pig deaths to another similar disease, the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS).
But speculation of cover up has grown in recent days after the public outcry at the rising price of pork that pig farmers said to be caused by an outbreak. In December, the Thailand Veterinary Dean Consortium sent a letter to Sorravis informing him about the discovery of ASF in a pig carcass, but he told reporters Sunday that he had never seen it.
Government spokesman Tanakorn Wangboonkongchana denied the allegations of cover up. He also said the Cabinet has approved 574 million baht fund to compensate farmers whose livestock were preventively culled.
“The Prime Minister has ordered the agriculture ministry to investigate the disease and inform the public,” Tanakorn said Tuesday.
Prices of pork have risen up to 40 baht per kilogram higher than the end of last month, according to an online agriculture marketplace website. The price of pork belly, for example, was quoted at 260 baht per kilogram on Tuesday, compared with 220 baht per kilogram on Dec. 31, 2021.