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Mizoram swine fever: Blame it on IVRI

Posted by Ramesh Khati on August 20, 2009

Aizawl, August 19, 2009(HINDUSTAN TIMES): Advance payment doesn’t apparently guarantee service in India, not even from niche institutes offering vaccination hope against communicable diseases.

While half the world grappled with swine flu, a contagious disease common to pigs struck Saiha and Lunglei districts of southern Mizoram. Since March, swine fever has felled some 1050 pigs to destabilize the localized rural economy.

An assessment revealed these pigs would have augmented the Rs 35 crore-a-year pork business had the Bareilly-based Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) supplied 60,000 doses of swine fever vaccine it was paid for almost a year ago.

“We had ordered that many doses and paid Rs 9 lakh to IVRI in the third quarter of 2008. But they have sent us only 15,000 doses till this month,” Mizoram veterinary joint director Sanglura Sailo told HT in Aizawl. “This is way below the requirement in a State where the commercial swine population hovers around the 2 lakh mark.”

The Mizoram government has exerted pressure on New Delhi to make IVRI honour its commitment before swine fever can claim more porcine creatures.

In Mizoram – elsewhere in the Northeast too – a pig is slaughtered for meat between the age of 8 and 12 months. The annual requirement for the swine flu vaccine, which offers immunity for a year, thus works out to 60,000-80,000 doses.

If IVRI has presumably dealt a body blow to backyard piggeries – letting pigs out to scavenge is illegal in Mizoram – cattle smugglers from Myanmar have wreaked havoc in the State’s mithun farms.

Mithuns are semi-wild, bison-like creatures that are highly valued as meat and bride price among various indigenous communities in the Northeast. A mithun of consumable age (3 or above) fetches Rs 30,000.

“The State depends on cattle from Myanmar for beef, and we have seven checkpoints on the Indo-Burma border to provide health certificates to animals fit for consumption. But many cattle traders sneak in through jungle routes. Some of these cattle carried the foot and mouth disease (FMD),” said a senior veterinary officer.

Some infected cattle ventured close to a mithun farm at Hmangkawn village 100 km south of Aizawl. The mithuns caught the fatal Type O FMD, and 32 died last month.

Officials claimed the FMD outbreak has been kept in check. The anti-FMD vaccine, available at private drugstores, ensures immunity for six months.


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