Keep calm, eat pork: Bali official changes tune, saying swine fever not confirmed yet


Made Anthony Iswara, The Jakarta Post

February 10, 2020


Jakarta / African swine fever, a disease previously blamed for the deaths of nearly a thousand pigs in Bali, is now being called unconfirmed, according to an official, backtracking from a previous confirmation.


Bali Agriculture and Food Security Agency head Ida Bagus Wisnuardhana said on Friday he only “suspects” that Afrian swine fever (ASF) killed the pig. The Agriculture Ministry will likely take another three months to obtain lab test results and confirm the source of the outbreak, he added.


The illness has killed over 880 pigs over the past two months. No deaths were reported in the past week, Wisnuardhana said.


“It’s not a matter of whether it is [ASF] or not. The important thing is that there are no dead pigs anymore. The task is done,” said Wisnuardhana, adding that his team would continue to closely monitor the outbreak daily.


The official’s change of tune could quiet concerns that the fatal virus will hurt Bali’s pork industry. Parts of the island’s population depend on pig farming for a living.


The agency has been spreading public awareness that the illness is not contagious to humans and Bali-bred pork can be consumed safely. It is also presenting information about how to properly feed pigs and handle suspected ASF-infected pigs to prevent further spread


Agriculture Ministry animal health director Fajar Sumping Tjatur Rasa said the ministry had not yet released an official statement on the matter as of Thursday.


But just like Wisnuardhana, Fajar argued that seeking ways to mitigate infections was more important than declaring the causes of an outbreak.


He added that the illness did not affect exports as the country was still “freely” sending live pigs from Pulau Bulan in Batam to Singapore with Singapore-approved biosecurity standards. Fajar estimated that the ministry was currently exporting 25,000 live pigs every month from Pulau Bulan while the country currently did not import live pigs...