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Barbados ‘on alert’ for African swine fever

Barbados Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir says the island is “on alert” for African swine fever (ASF) since the disease was confirmed in the Dominican Republic.

“Cabinet approved for us to put Barbados in a state of readiness in case African swine fever should reach Barbados. The entire region has been put on alert,” Weir said at a press conference on August 27, as reported by Barbados Today.

ASF was first detected in the Dominican Republic on July 28, marking the first time the disease had been detected in the Western hemisphere in 40 years. The Dominican Republic and Barbados are about 800 miles apart in the Caribbean Sea.

Veterinary officer Mark Trotman said that ASF has not been detected in Barbados and that it is important to “do everything to keep it out.”

“Up until recently, the Americas was the only region that was spared its effects. It has wreaked havoc in many of the countries it has infected, not only in terms of the killing of the pigs but also the economic backlash,” he said. “It poses no risk to public health, but it does pose a significant risk to the pork industry and to the economic health of the country.”

Weir said Cabinet has agreed to establish a standing committee to address matter related to laboratory equipment “so that we will have the equipment that we need in order to carry out the requisite tests that we may need to carry out. We are also increasing the human resources available to the veterinary services as well, to be able to assist us to carry out the field work that we need to do.”

A public education program on ASF has begun on the island, Weir added.

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said it would establish a foreign animal disease (FAD) protection zone in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to protect the country and its territories from African swine fever (ASF). Only about 240 miles of water separate the Dominican Republic from Puerto Rico.

View our continuing coverage of the African swine fever outbreak.

Par Ann Reus (27/08/2021)

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