It was confirmed last September 9 by the Department of Agriculture that African Swine Flu has entered the Philippines. It has already caused the deaths of hundreds of pigs in the country. According to Agriculture Secretary William Dar, 14 out of the 20 pig blood samples tested in a laboratory in the United Kingdom came out as positive for African Swine Fever.
But what does any of that really mean? Let’s go through some fast facts on African Swine Flu to clear it up.
What Is African Swine Flu?
According to the World Organization for Animal Health, it is a severe viral disease affecting pigs, warthogs, and boars. Symptoms of the sickness include a high fever, loss of appetite, and hemorrhaging in the skin and internal organs. The National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) guarantees that death from the flu is certain and it usually occurs within a span of 2 to 10 days.
No known vaccine against ASF has been discovered.
How does ASF spread?
ASF is transmitted from infected pigs through direct and indirect contact. Indirect contact can mean contact with contaminated materials such as clothes, food, or furniture or the ingestion of it. It can only be passed from pig to pig.
How far has the contamination spread?
Around 7,400 pigs that were suspected of contamination have been culled so far on farms in Rizal and Bulacan province. Agriculture Secretary William Dar stated that 7 areas in the aforementioned provinces have been affected by ASF so far.
In Rizal these areas are San Jose, Macabud, San Isidro, San Rafael, Mascap, and Cupang in Antipolo. While in Bulacan, Guiguinto is the only affected area.
Is it still safe to buy and eat pork?
Yes, the ASF poses no health risk to humans. The disease can only be transmitted to other pigs, boars, or hogs. However, Dar advises the public to only buy and consume meat that is sourced from establishments with the stamp of the National Meat Inspection Services. This is the Department of Agriculture’s specialized regulatory agency in charge of certifying the proper inspection of meat.
It is still important to ensure the meat you are consuming is clean as humans can become carriers of the virus once ingesting or getting too close to the meat.
So how are we affected by ASF?
The swine industry of the Philippines is set to suffer heavily should contamination of the disease spread widely. The P260-billion industry is the main source of livelihood for millions of Filipinos across the country. 65% of the industry is made up of small backyard raisers who rely on this income completely.
Will ASF raise pork prices in the Philippines?
The Department of Agriculture assures the public that pork prices will not be severely impacted. Dar told Bandila “There’s enough pork supply this season, more so on December, so it’s not expected to raise prices in the market.”
What do you think about this?