Paris – East Timor is imposing restrictions on the movement of livestock to contain African Swine flu, its agriculture ministry said on Monday after reporting multiple outbreaks to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
There have been 100 outbreaks since early September, the ministry said on the website of the Paris-based OIE, killing a total of 405 backyard pigs from smallholders' farms in the Dili region in the country's north.
The government is now banning movement of pigs from Dili to other municipalities, the ministry said in a statement, in an effort to contain a disease that has killed millions of pigs across Asia.
The ministry said East Timor has about 400,000 pigs and that a widespread swine flu outbreak could affect the livelihood of 70% of families that depend on raising pigs for income.
The tiny Pacific nation of East Timor shares an island with Indonesia's province of East Nusa Tenggara and is located north of Australia.
East Timor is working with Australia to investigate the cause and source of the outbreak, the agriculture ministry said.
African swine fever is not harmful to humans but is deadly to pigs, with no available vaccine. It surfaced for the first time in Asia more than a year ago, in China, before spreading to southeast Asian nations such as Cambodia and Vietnam.
Severe damage to pig herds in China, the world's top pork producer, has disrupted global markets from pork to feed, including corn and soymeal.
Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide and Nelson Da Cruz; Editing by David Goodman