African Swine Fever Confirmed to be in the Philippines

  • The Department of Agriculture confirmed that African Swine Fever (ASF) is present in several areas of the country 
  • 14 out of 20 blood samples tested positive for the virus
  • Agriculture Secretary William Dar clarified that the nation was not facing an epidemic.

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Department of Agriculture confirmed that African Swine Fever (ASF) is present in several areas of the country and has caused the death of pigs. The Philippines is now the latest country hit by the highly contagious viral disease that has killed pigs from Slovakia to China, pushing up pork prices worldwide. 

Livestock accounts for 17 per cent of Philippine agricultural output. Philippine hog production totalled more than 2.3 million tonnes based on live weight in 2018, valued at 242 billion pesos (S$6.4 billion).
Via Reuters/The Straits Times

“We are still waiting on whether the virus affecting the hog areas in the country is weak or virulent,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a briefing Monday. He said majority of the 20 blood samples sent to the U.K. tested positive for the virus.

He said that 14 out of 20 blood samples tested positive for the virus.

However, Dar clarified that the nation was not facing an epidemic. He also urged Filipinos to continue eating pork, which is a critical market in the Philippines. The country is the world’s eight biggest pork producer by volume. Its swine industry is estimated at 260 billion pesos, according to the Department of Agriculture. 

Some 7,416 pigs within the 1-kilometer radius of the affected areas in parts of Rizal and Bulacan have been culled, Dar said. These areas are now considered “cleared” of the disease, he said. 

Image result for philippines african swine flu
Via the Philippine Star

Dar said 7 areas in two provinces in Luzon have been affected by ASF. These are the following: In Rizal – San Jose, Macabud, San isidro, San Rafael, Mascap, and Cupang in Antipolo; and in Guiguinto, Bulacan.

He also said experts suspect that the virus was spread through food waste from restaurants and hotels, as well as products carried by overseas Filipinos from countries whose pork is contaminated with ASF.

Dar and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III assure the public that pork is safe to eat as long as it bears the stamp of the National Meat Inspection Service.

“Mahirap ma-contain kung walang partisipasyon ng komunidad o mga tao… Lahat, dapat natin gagawin, tulong-tulong otherwise, as you said, it will be a lingering issue,” he said.

(It will be difficult to contain if there is no community participation… We should do everything, cooperate, otherwise, as you said, it will be a lingering issue.)

The virus is not harmful to humans but causes haemorrhagic fever in pigs that almost always ends in death. There is no antidote or vaccine and the only known method to prevent the disease from spreading is a mass cull of affected livestock.

Sources: Channel News Asia, Rappler, ABS-CBN, Bloomberg, Straits Times

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