The deadly African swine fever-ASF is devastating piggery farms in Masaka District. The highly contagious viral disease has already claimed more than 30 pigs.
Some of the affected farmers include Reverend Sister Francis Namukwaya of Kitovu Convent in Masaka City, whose farm has almost been wiped out.
Sr. Namukwaya says that in a period of three weeks, she has lost 30 out of 35 pigs on their farm. She adds that they started the piggery project in 2020, following the outbreak of Covid 19 pandemic with the aim of increasing their earnings, which have however been affected by the swine fever.
Paul Musoke, another farmer in Buwunga Sub-county, wonders, how he will fend for his family, saying the piggery farm has been his only source of income. He says that when his pigs were attacked he thought it was the usual fever, but got concerned after three of them died on the same day.
Milly Nayiga a resident of Kijjabwemi Cell in Kimaanya-Kabonera Division, Masaka City says she lost three pigs to the disease in the past three days. She says that on top the fever, the farmers are also being exploited by dealers who are currently buying the pigs at very low prices.
Doctor Kirumira Mukasa, the Masaka District Production and Marketing Officer confirmed the outbreak of the disease but advised the farmers to regularly disinfect their pigsty and also restrict visitors and maintain high hygiene.
He attributes the high spread of the disease to the uncontrolled movement of pigs and poor hygiene. Mukasa says that African swine fever is the biggest threat to piggery farming in Masaka district.
An infected pig presents with coughing, abortion, diarrhea, and low appetite among others. Pigs also have high incidences of stillbirths and weak litters, general body weakness, and the reddening of the skin, particularly around the ears and snout.