October 12, 2019


African swine fever virus further spreads in Philippines


The Philippines' new cases of African swine fever infections discovered recently in Metro Manila and the province of Pangasinan in the northern Philippines confirm the continued spread of the disease in the country. Earlier outbreaks had been reported in Rizal, Bulacan and Pampanga provinces, which are both near Metro Manila. All places are in Luzon, the archipelagic country's largest island.


The head of the Department of Agriculture (DA), William Dar, blamed hog traders transporting infected pigs for the rising number of African swine fever cases in the country, as per a Philippine Daily Inquirer report.


At least 20,000 pigs have either been culled or died due to the disease since Sept. 9, when the first outbreak of the disease was declared in the country. The number, however, is a small portion of the Philippines' swine herd, which is estimated at 12.7 million head as of July 1.


Several regions in the Visayas and Mindanao in central and southern Philippines, which have remained ASF-free, have imposed a ban on pork and pork-related products from Luzon including Metro Manila.


Cagayan de Oro city, the regional seat of northern Mindanao, which is one of the top hog-producing regions in the country, is the latest to impose a ban aimed at protecting the region's hog industry..


According to DA officials, the virus may have been brought to local farms via swill (food scraps) fed to pigs that had contaminated imported pork products and sourced from hotels and restaurants.


The Philippines, together with South Korea and Timor-Leste, is the latest country in Asia to report the disease, which first hit China on Aug. 3, 2018. After China, the deadly disease spread to Vietnam, Mongolia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and North Korea in Asia. 


The Philippines the world's 10th-largest pork consumer and seventh-biggest pork importer.


While the African swine fever poses no risk to human health, it is fatal and highly contagious for pigs, with no known cure.