The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, along with MECs of three affected provinces, has set up a task team to urgently address the spread of African swine flu among pig stocks, the ministry said on Saturday.
Since April, there have been outbreaks of swine flu in North West, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Free State provinces. The areas currently affected are Daveyton in Gauteng, Delmas and Siyabuswa in Mpumalanga and Marikana in the North West.
According to Fin24, the first outbreak was reported when some informal pig keepers on the outskirts of Daveyton bought pigs at an auction and reported unusual deaths a few days later. A total of 257 pigs belonging to 19 communal pig farmers were culled.
The department said the next outbreak was reported in May when a small-scale farmer in Vanderbiljpark introduced infected pigs he had bought into his farm. A total of 96 pigs were culled on this farm and disposed of.
A further three outbreaks were reported.
Minister Thoko Didiza met with officials in Pretoria on Friday for a briefing on the status of the outbreak in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West. The meeting, which included senior official from a number of departments in the three provinces, looked at various ways of dealing with the outbreak and finding a permanent solution.
Although there have been interventions to contain the spread of the disease, such as active surveillance and awareness carried out in the immediate vicinity, alongside passive surveillance, Didiza has urged officials to make sure that the spread of the ASF is quickly managed.
"We have to look at various options such as institutional arrangements working with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and also reflect on the issue of animal commonages in the affected areas," Didiza says.
"We will be engaging with Ministers of Finance and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to ask for their assistance to quickly respond to this challenge."
Didiza has urged pig farmers to make sure that infected animals are isolated and destroyed under the supervision of or by an officer or authorized person.