AFP, May 10, 1999

Malaysia to extend pig culling to eastern state to curb virus

40 pigs in Kelantan tested positive

KUALA LUMPUR, May 10 (AFP) - Malaysia is to extend its mass pig culling to the eastern state of Kelantan after 40 pigs there tested positive for a deadly virus following an outbreak that killed 100 people elsewhere in the country, reports said Monday.

It was the first time the epidemic -- previously contained on the west coast of peninsular Malaysia -- has been detected in an eastern state, The Sun newspaper reported.

Chinese and Thai pig farmers had surrendered the animals to be destroyed after recent tests for the Nipah virus were positive, district officer Jamil Muhammad was quoted as saying.

"We have been appealing to pig owners to keep their animals fenced in clean surroundings but a number of them are still allowing their animals to roam free," he said, adding that the culling would begin Tuesday.

Two virus types, Japanese encephalitis and Nipah, had spread through pigs in Malaysia, resulting in the deaths of about 100 people there and the culling of more than 900,000 pigs and stray dogs.

The Nipah virus, named after a badly hit village in the state of Negeri Sembilan, is a new strain. It is similar to the Hendra virus which was responsible for the deaths of some horses and humans in Australia in 1994.

So far a total of 901,228 pigs in three states -- Perak, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan -- have been killed to contain the epidemic. Authorities have said they would kill a few thousand pigs in southern Johor state after one animal tested positive for the Nipah virus.

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