Singapore certified free of two contagious animal diseases

SINGAPORE - Singapore has been certified free of two highly contagious animal diseases that can affect cattle, sheep and goats.

The World Organisation for Animal Health has cleared the Republic of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia and peste des petits ruminants.

It had previously declared the city state free of other animal diseases such as rabies, foot and mouth disease and African horse sickness, Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said in a blog post on Wednesday.

"Although Singapore does not have a large livestock industry, we have a significant transhipment and re-export market and being free from such animal diseases is a big plus," he wrote.

He also noted that some of these diseases can be passed from species to species, and hence pose a risk to humans.

"This is why we maintain high veterinary standards, stay alert to disease outbreaks elsewhere and act on them, when necessary," he added.

He revealed that Singapore suspended imports of pork from Poland in February after African swine fever, a haemorrhagic disease of pigs, was detected there. The virus, he said, can persist for up to several months in pork products, making it difficult to eradicate.

If transmitted to Asia, it could spread rapidly thorough pig populations in the region as these do not have protective antibodies against it. Though humans would not be infected, this could affect Singapore's food security.

Mr Khaw added that the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) is monitoring the situation closely.