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 Viral Plague Panic Spreads -
   Malaysian Army To Kill
   100,00 Pigs
 

By Frances Harrison  in Kuala Lumpur
(www.newsunlimited.co.uk)
 
3-20-99
 
 
       The Malaysian army and police have been called in to help shoot  more than 100,000 pigs thought to be carrying the deadly Japanese encephalitis virus, following an outbreak of the disease which is transmitted from pigs to humans via mosquitoes.
 
       Many farms have been abandoned as people flee infected regions. Officials say 33 people have died of the virus in the western state of Negri Sembilan in the last fortnight, most of them pig farmers or their families. Fifteen people have died in other states.
 
       The virus, known as the `plague of the Orient', causes inflammation of the brain. Three hundred thousand people and half a million pigs are to be vaccinated, but there are fears that this is a new strain against which there is no protection. Panic has broken out in Negri Sembilan, which has some of the biggest pig farms in south-east Asia. Towns lie deserted, with houses, schools and supermarkets padlocked.
 
       Only 10 men remain in the village of Sungai Nipah and at night they all sleep on the floor of the Chinese temple, hoping for divine protection from the mosquitoes which carry the virus. Sungai Nipah won an award three years in a row for being the best-kept Chinese village in Malaysia - now its last residents describe it as a ghost town.
 
       Farmers are facing bankruptcy after generations in the pig business. Malaysia's £250 million pork business has been hit hard by fears that the meat is unsafe to eat, despite reassurances by the government. Sales are said to have slumped by between 40 and 70 per cent
 
       A 35-year-old farmer committed suicide last week by drinking weedkiller after he failed to sell his pigs and could not get credit to buy feed for them.
 
       Unable to care for their animals because the workforce has fled, farmers are resorting to killing their pigs. The stench of carcasses not properly disposed of has led to fears of a fresh outbreak of disease.
 
       The opposition leader, Lim Kit Siang, has urged the government to compensate farmers and declare a national emergency to deal with the health scare. 'I feel total despair and utter helplessness to see people dying like flies one after another, day by day,' said Mr Lim, who accused the government of doing too little, too late.
 
       The minister of health, Chua Jui Meng, said: 'The cabinet has agreed in principle that some kind of humanitarian assistance be given to pig farmers, but the cabinet wants to make it clear there will be no compensation.'

Web posted at: http://www.sightings.com/ufo3/viralplague.htm
 

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