…warns that precaution must be takenIn light of the outbreak of the African Swine Flu (ASF) disease in Europe and more recently in Asia, the Guyana Livestock and Development Authority (GLDA) has taken steps to prevent the transmission of the disease to Guyana’s shores, especially given the increased traffic from those two continents to the emerging oil and gas sector.GLDA Deputy CEO Dr Dwight WalrondAt a press conference on Thursday, GLDA Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Dwight Walrond pointed out that Guyana was also becoming an important hub because of its petroleum industry and as such, special attention needed to be placed on this sector.“We know and we’ve been talking a lot about oil and what oil would be doing for us or should be doing for us… What is important is for the relevant ministries and departments to have a grip of what is coming off of those ships and aircraft that are involved in those trades,” Dr Walrond posited.According to the Deputy CEO, Guyana simply cannot allow vessels such as supply boats from affected parts of the world to come to the local shores without any measures in place to monitor them for diseases like ASF.“Guyana is a sovereign nation and we cannot and will not allow any country or anyone to ship livestock or livestock product to any part of Guyana directly from another country to the [local oil] platforms… Currently we are faced with a situation where boats are coming directly and heading directly to some of the platforms and then they’re coming to Port Georgetown subsequently so we’re basically doing post-mortem,” he pointed out.On this note, Dr Walrond posited that once these vessels were in Guyana’s territory, they would need an import permit to bring in any animal or animal-based products.Though the disease has not reached the American Region, of which Guyana is a part of, the local authority is currently monitoring the disease to keep Guyana’s free status preserved.According to the GLDA Deputy CEO, the recent spread of the ASF disease is the cause of huge economic losses within the pig industry.Of recent, there has been increased traffic from Europe and Asia to Guyana as a result of the budding oil and gas sector. Only last month, Guyana started a new route to Europe via Amsterdam through neighbouring Suriname, with which it also shares a ferry port. The Livestock Authority is now importing pigs from the neighbouring country.Given the situation at hand, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has launched a global initiative to have the ASF disease under control. With the objective to minimise the effects of the disease, along with strengthening countries’ prevention and preparation efforts, the GLDA insisted that preventing the introduction of this awful disease is very important.In fact, the GLDA Deputy CEO cautioned that the lack of precautionary measures by stakeholders such as hunters, professionals, and farmers may result in the emergence of ASF in Guyana.On this note, he indicated that the local authority was in the process of implementing measures to mitigate the possible introduction of ASF. One of the measures that are on the table for discussion is that importers of meat would not be able to ship any kind of meat to Guyana without a permit.He added that currently there was no treatment available for the disease and no treatment should be attempted. Moreover, he explained that humans were not susceptible to the disease and there were no public health or food safety concerns.The disease can be transmitted through direct contact with pigs, environmental contaminations, and bites from flies and mosquitoes among other vectors.ASF is a highly contagious haemorrhagic viral disease of domestic and wild pigs. It is caused by a DNA virus that is related to the Asfarviridae family. It is known to infect ticks of the genus Ornithodoros. Even though signs of ASF and classical swine fever (CSF) may be similar, the ASF virus is unrelated to the CSF virus.