HO CHI MINH CITY - African swine fever (ASF) has hit more southern and northern provinces of Vietnam over the past few weeks, local media reported on Monday.

According to results of tests announced on Sunday, a herd of 55 pigs raised by a household in My Xuyen district, southern Soc Trang province were infected with the ASF virus, so the province has become the latest Vietnamese locality stricken by the animal disease, daily newspaper Tuoi Tre (Youth) quoted the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development as reporting.

Local agencies have organized the culling of all of the pigs, and set up more quarantine checkpoints along main roads going through Soc Trang.

Dozens of pigs infected with ASF were culled on May 20 in Quang Binh district, northern Ha Giang province, Vietnam News Agency quoted the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development as reporting.

Since the first outbreak in northern Hung Yen province in February, ASF has been detected in 2,904 communes in 42 cities and provinces, with 1.7 million pigs culled, or over 5 percent of Vietnam’s pigs, Vietnam News Agency reported on Monday.

Bach Duc Luu, deputy director of the Animal Health Department under the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that since ASF was first discovered in the southern region, Hau Giang province, in April, the disease has so far spread to eight southern provinces, and 4,840 pigs, or nearly 0.1 percent of all pigs in the regions, have been culled.

Southern Vietnam has nearly 6.5 million pigs, or 23 percent of the country’s total. There are 3,514 pig farms, only 459 of which are considered safe from the disease. Many individual households with pig farms are located near accommodations, making it more difficult to prevent the spread.

Many farmers in the south are still not fully aware of the dangers of ASF and have not applied bio-security measures. Some farmers have tried to treat the disease themselves or have discarded pig carcasses in rivers, canals or garbage dumps.

Without stronger preventive measures, “the most dangerous outbreak that the husbandry industry has faced so far” may spread to all 63 localities in Vietnam, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said.

ASF is a severe viral disease affecting domestic and wild boars which can be spread by live or dead pigs and pork products, the World Organization for Animal Health said, noting that the ASF virus is harmless to human, but causes hemorrhagic fever in pigs and wild boars that is almost fatal.