Vietnam is scrambling to prevent the deadly African swine fever (ASF) from reaching the southern part of the country.

On March 26, the national steering committee for the prevention and control of ASF held a meeting in Hanoi, where Nguyen Xuan Cuong said the disease posed a threat to the pig farming industry despite the measures being taken to curb the spread of the disease, Viet Nam News reported.

Cuong said adverse weather and the small scale farming and pig breeding contributed to the spread of the disease.

Nguyen Van Long of the Department of Animal Health said the disease has been reported in 21 cities and provinces as of March 25, with almost 65,000 pigs being put down. He added that about 4,500 pigs were culled in the Dong Tao Commune of Khoai Chau, Hung Yen, alone.

Cuong has instructed localities to adopt disease prevention, detection, handling and monitoring measures to ensure the control of the disease. Breeders with large numbers of pigs were also told to strengthen preventive measures.

He said vehicles transporting pigs and pork products from north to south must be stopped. Authorities are now working on a vaccine against ASF to ensure the long-term development of the pig farming sector.