Nearly 1 million pigs culled amid 'worst ever' swine fever outbreak in Nigeria

Farmers are estimating that up to one million pigs had been culled as Nigeria deals with an outbreak of African swine fever, which they describe as the worst and largest ever.

The African Swine Flu (ASF) began around Lagos and parts of neighboring Ogun earlier this year. Now, it has spread to more than a quarter of Nigeria's 36 states.

Although there are no official records yet, farmers estimated that up to a million pigs had been put down so far. According to Mrs. Bello, a farmer at Oke-Aro-- the largest pic co-operative in West Africa-- the co-op alone had culled around half a million pigs.

ASF has regularly occurred in several parts of Africa in the past decade. Between 2016 to 2019, there were more than 60 outbreaks reported across the continent.

However, this year's outbreak is described as the worst. "We have never experienced anything of this scale in the past. This is the worst and largest outbreak ever," said Oke-Aro pig farmer, Ayo Omirin, who has lost 600 of his 800 pigs.

Those in the industry are estimating losses of about 50 million dollars and 20 000 jobs at risk.

"A lot of pig farmers may not fully recover from their losses even in the next two years," Omirin added. "Some farmers have left the industry already. At the moment, we have no clear picture of how the industry is going to bounce back."

The virus came as the country continues to grapple with coronavirus, now with a total of 18 480 cases as of June 19. Unlike COVID-19, ASF is harmless to humans but its fatality rate among pigs is almost 100 percent.

Featured image credit: Flickr

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