Malay troops slaughter pigs in war on virus
March 20, 1999
CHUAH, Malaysia (CNN) -- Malaysian troops began shooting more than 300,000 pigs Saturday as the government attempted to stop the spread of an epidemic that officials have attributed to the deaths of more than 50 people.
The operation was mounted in response to an outbreak of Japanese encephalitis and a second, as yet unidentified, virus.
Japanese encephalitis can be carried by pigs and spread to man by mosquitoes. The second virus, which has been linked to five of the deaths, is also believed to be pig-related.
Almost half of the swine population will be eliminated in Malaysia's largest pig-breeding region of Negri Sembilan state, about 100 km (60 miles) south of Kuala Lumpur. The government plans to kill roughly 35,000 pigs a day for 10 days.
At least 33 people have died in the area, bringing the nationwide death toll since October to 53. All the victims have lived on or near pig farms, officials said.
The mass pig slaughter involves more than 1,000 non-Muslim soldiers, armed with shotguns and wearing hoods, gloves and surgical masks. Pigs are considered unclean in Islam, and Muslims avoid contact with them.
The government has ordered vaccinations for another 500,000 pigs and about 300,000 people.
Malaysia has already spent $12 million to fight the outbreak, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Saturday
Japanese encephalitis attacks the brain and causes high fever, muscle aches, vomiting and coma.
News that a second virus had been identified added to the confusion which has prompted many panic-stricken residents of the pig breeding region to flee.
There was no sign, however, of a nationwide panic.
Mahathir has ordered a review of pig farming practices throughout Malaysia to prevent a recurrence of the disease.
"Everyone has agreed to this reorganization ... the need to keep the farms clean so that there will be no mosquitoes," he said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control were sending scientists to Malaysia to help investigate the epidemic.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.