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Myth on carcass disposal impeding fight against African swine fever in Rubanda

A pig feeding from utensils in Karukara, Hamurwa town council,Rubanda district

Rubanda, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  Myths and misconception surrounding burying of carcasses is impending the fight against the African swine fever outbreak in Rubanda district.

In September this year, veterinary authorities in Rubanda and Kabale districts banned the movement and sell of pigs and their products following a confirmed outbreak of African swine fever, a highly contagious hemorrhagic fever that affects pigs. 

The disease presents with high fever, loss of appetite, bleeding under the skin and internal organs of an infected pig among others. It is mostly transmitted with infected pigs or their feces or body fluids and contact with contaminated clothing and foot ware of animal attendants. Infected animals are supposed to be buried to stop further spread of the disease. 

However, pig farmers in Rubanda district are reluctant to bury the carcasses claimed by African swine fever. They argue that burying animal carcasses especially pigs, creates bad omen in society and can result into human deaths. As a result, farmers dispose the carcasses of infected pigs into streams, which veterinary officials; say is dangerous and impedes their fight against the disease. 

Dr. Cosma Twesigomwe, the Rubanda District Veterinary Officer, says that the African swine fever has so far killed 12 pigs since it was confirmed in the district last month.

Dr. Twesigwome says their efforts to enforce the ban on the movement of pigs, sell of their products and proper disposal of infected carcasses to stop the spread of the disease is being hindered by farmer’s myths.

Donato Mubangizi, the Hamurwa Sub County Veterinary Officer, says farmers have resorted to silently dumping pig’s carcasses in the nearby streams instead of burying.

Peter Rwakifari, the Rubanda Resident District Commissioner, says that he is perplexed that farmers still believe in such myths instead of believing in God.

He says the myth has worsened the burden of fighting African swine fever because dumping carcasses in streams is unhealthy.

Rwakifari says that they have started sensitizing farmers to stop dumping the carcasses and encourage them to burn them instead.

A pig farmer in Igomanda parish in Hamurwa Sub county who asked not to be named, said despite losing some of his pigs to African Swine Fever, he cannot dare burry any of the carcass because it is against tradition.     He says that in their tradition, burying an animal puts others and even family members at risk of dying from bad Omen.

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