(Penang, Friday): Despite repeated announcements by the Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng in the past few months, firstly about the end of the Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus outbreak and later about the end of the Nipah virus outbreak, Penang has become the seventh state to be infected with the Nipah virus outbreak, after Perak, Negri Sembilan, Johor, Kelantan, Malacca and Selangor.
Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon announced yesterday that the Nipah virus has been detected at a farm with 2,414 pigs in Kampung Luar Valdor in Sungai Bakap, Seberang Prai Selatan and that all the pigs would be destroyed, using the "shoot and burn" procedure.
DAP calls on the Penang State Government to set the lead and ensure that the compensation for every pig destroyed is increased from RM50 to RM250, as the government should fully understand and sympathise with the pig farmers who are dissatisfied with the puny financial aid for the destruction of their animals when the farmers cannot be blamed for the nipah virus outbreak disaster.
In fact, if a full, thorough and independent inquiry is conducted, it would be shown that it is the government itself which must bear the fullest responsibility for allowing the nipah virus epidemic to wreak so much havoc on human lives and the RM2.5 billion pig-rearing and pork industry.
Press reports today of the interview by Dr. Thomas Ksiazek, a senior researcher with the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is very significant in throwing light as to how the whole virus epidemic had been misdiagnosed and mishandled by the authorities concerned.
Ksiazek, who heads a team of foreign experts helping to study the epidemic, blamed the mistake on poor diagnoses by authorities.
Recently, more and more queries have been raised as to whether pigs tested Nipah virus positive should be culled, on the ground that it meant that they are otherwise healthy pig with antibodies to the nipah virus and that it is not conclusive test that the pigs have persistent Nipah virus infection.
In Paya Mengkuang in Malacca, for instance, where five pigs farms have been tested Nipah virus positive, no person or pig had fallen ill, fortifying these queries.
Unless these queries are answered satisfactorily, the government has
a greater responsibility to ensure that the compensation per pig destroyed
should be raised from the nominal RM50 to RM250 per pig.