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Monday, March 29, 1999 Published at 05:37 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Malaysia expands pig cull to combat epidemic

The authorities in Malaysia are drastically expanding their cull of pig herds, as they try to tackle an epidemic which has killed over sixty people. *A senior health official*, Ling Liong Sik, is reported as saying it was necessary to destroy more than a million animals - three times the number originally predicted.

The Malaysian deputy prime minister, Abdullah Badawi, has appealed for calm, saying the situation is serious but under control.

Several people who died had succumbed to Japanese encephalitis, which is transmitted from pigs to humans by mosquitoes, but people are also falling vicitm to another as yet unidentified virus. Tens of thousands of pigs have already been slaughtered in an attempt to contain the outbreak.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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