Stop Blaming Cats for African Swine Fever Virus!

Put an End to Animal-Phobic Press Reports!

On 1st October 2019, Yonhap News reported (Korean) that wild cats may have spread African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) by eating or stepping on contaminated meat before entering farms. It went on to suggest that wild cats should be put down as a precautionary measure like we do with wild mice.

We condemn this reporting by Yonhap as irresponsibly spreading unwarranted fear of and contempt for animals, also known as misothery.

There are three known routes of infection. Pigs that have

  • consumed food waste contaminated by ASFV,
  • come into contact with infected pigs or wild pigs,
  • or, have been infected by materials carried by persons that have had contact with infected pigs or wild pigs.

When asked, an official from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) said that

There is no detected case where a wild cat has spread ASFV. We cannot exclude any possibility, but it is difficult to presuppose at this time.

Yonhap has added to the confusion of the situation by spreading the idea of having to put down guiltless cats.

There are no confirmed cases to do with cats in any overseas news or academic reports either. There had been a seizure of stray dogs and cats in the city of Kherson, in southern Ukraine, in order to “eliminate all wild animals that may carry the virus,” but again there is no foundation for supposing that dogs and cats spread ASFV. And the Mayor of Kherson cancelled the measure after a surge of protests.

As in the case of Foot and Mouth disease (FMD,) most infections had stemmed from a lack of proper hygiene, inadequate disinfection, human-induced activities including the transportation of animals and food, and intrauterine insemination.

We have also seen many disinfection facilities only at the main entrances of farms, leaving other ways of entering unguarded, through which residents, workers, and hikers are allowed to freely pass.

The dairy and cattle farmers, and related persons interviewed by Yonhap News mentioned cats in order to shift the blame from themselves and their inadequate management. They have tried, it seems, to blame the government for not making laws to put down cats, and to receive larger compensation for their losses.

We condemn Yonhap News, instigating phobia of cats, and perhaps cruelty against cats, based on no scientific data, and we demand a correction of the erroneous news report, and an apology to put an end to any misunderstanding it may have caused.

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