Hundreds of Quang Nam residents on Monday (February 11) opposed local authorities as the latter attempted to bury pigs belonging to a local animal health official that were involved in the death of two butchers.
The residents gathered at an empty land plot in Dai Loc District's Dai Tan Commune, demanding that authorities examine the pigs and identify their sickness before they are put down.
According to Mai Nhon, chairman of Dai Tan People's Committee, the pigs had been raised by Vo Thien Sinh, a communal animal health official.
Sinh had sold the 24 pigs to butcher Pham Thi Nguyet of the adjacent Dai Thang Commune on February 4, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper quoted Nhon as saying.
After slaughtering eight pigs, Nguyet, 42, developed high temperature, diarrhea and intestinal hemorrhage. She was admitted to a local hospital and died on February 8.
Sinh took back the remaining pigs to the slaughterhouse of Nguyen Nguyen in Dai Tan Commune. How Sinh was allowed to take back the pigs he had sold has not been explained.
Nguyen, 41, had slaughtered two of the pigs when he developed similar symptoms as Nguyet. He died in a local hospital on February 10.
Phan Thanh Thien, head of Dai Loc District Animal Health Agency, said that a decision was then taken to kill and bury the pigs, without explaining why the authorities thought it fit to do so without finding out what had caused the butchers' deaths.
However, hundreds of residents opposed the move, demanding that that pigs' sickness be identified first. They also did not want the pigs to be buried in the area.
"We are yet to identify the pigs' disease but two people died after touching them. We will send samples to the Zone 4 Animal Health Agency in Da Nang for testing," Thien said in response to the protests.
Although Quang Nam authorities are yet to find out the cause of two deaths, at least three patients have been hospitalized in nearby Da Nang City after being infected with a Streptococcus bacteria strain that is commonly found in pigs. The symptoms of the infections are similar to that suffered by the deceased butchers.
On January 14, the Da Nang Department of Health said two patients from Quang Nam Province and another from Quang Ngai are being treated at the Da Nang General Hospital for the infection.
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