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Officials Fear Swine Epidemic From Vietnam, Thailand

Hundreds of pigs have now died across nine provinces, from two types of disease that may have come from neighboring countries, animal health officials said Wednesday.

The pigs have all died in the last two weeks, fanning concern of an epidemic, officials said in a special meeting of provincial leaders in Phnom Penh. Authorities say they are concerned infected pigs are being smuggled in from Thailand and Vietnam.

Government officials are now appealing to provincial officials near the borders to step up efforts to stop the import of pigs for an unspecified amount of time.

“Animal health officials, military police and police, as well as customs officials, are working closely together to stop the illegal import of pigs,” Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun said at Wednesday’s meeting. “This measure is to prevent an epidemic of the disease from one side [of the border] to the other.”

Blood tests by the Ministry of Agriculture’s department of animal health on more than 80 pigs turned up two causes for the deaths: porcine reproductive respiratory syndrome and classical swine fever.

Classical swine fever was found in samples from Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Cham and Takeo provinces. PRRS was found in samples from Kampong Chhnang, Kandal, Kampong Cham, Takeo and Prey Veng provinces, officials said.

Authorities from the ministry’s department of animal health have taken control of villages in nine provinces where they hope to contain the spread of the diseases.

A similar epidemic in China in 2006 killed more than 10,000 pigs before it was brought under control. In May, Vietnam and Laos experienced a similar outbreak, followed by another in Thailand last month.