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Vietnam, US work together to combat African swine fever

The spread of African swine fever (ASF) continues, causing losses for breeders, said Pham Van Dong, head of the Department of Animal Health at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

According to the Animal Health Department, the ASF virus has so far spread to more than 7,700 communes of nearly 650 districts in all 63 provinces and cities of Vietnam. More than five million pigs have been culled.

“The pathogens have spread rapidly. The virus has existed for a long time in the environment and in pork with diversified methods of transmissions. The management of ASF has faced difficulties due to large numbers of small-scale pig slaughtering and breeding households,” said Dong.

He said the only successful measure so far is to ensure biological safety in breeding. All pigsties must be safe and installed with antiseptic measures and nets to isolate pigs from insects which can spread pathogens.

The Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and US Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service have held an ASF training course for first responders in Hanoi. The course is expected to end on September 25.

The course is part of capacity building events conducted by the US to share experience and expertise to help Vietnam combat the transboundary animal disease.

US Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink said the US received a letter in April 2019 from the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, asking the US to provide assistance to Vietnam.

Responding to the request, the US is providing 800,000 USD of laboratory diagnostic equipment to help Vietnam detect ASF and a number of studies, assessments and seminars.

The ambassador highlighted the importance of collaboration between the two countries as the US regards Vietnam as “a regional strategic partner” in combating the disease.

“Since August 2018, the ASF virus has spread to 10 other countries in the region. We are confident that Vietnam can play a critical role in helping us develop a regional approach to respond to ASF,” he said.

Combating ASF is going to be a long-term challenge. The US and Vietnam should continue to look at solutions that the two sides can take together in short, mid and long terms, he said.