Swine fever case detected

MANILA: Blood samples taken from pigs in a southern province in the Philippines, the world’s 10th- largest pork consumer, tested positive for the African swine fever virus, the Department of Agriculture said.

It was the first reported case of African swine fever infections in Davao Occidental province and elsewhere in Mindanao, the southern island of the South-East Asian nation.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar had ordered regional department officials to restrict animal movement in that part of the archipelago, the department said in a statement issued yesterday.

The Philippines, also the world’s seventh-biggest pork importer, reported its first African swine fever outbreak in September last year in some backyard farms near the country’s capital Manila.

The disease quickly spread to other parts of the main island of Luzon, including Manila, prompting some central and southern provinces to ban pork and pork-based products from disease-hit areas.

Dar has said pork smuggled from China, where millions of pigs were culled because of the disease, could be behind the outbreak in the Philippines.

Although the blood samples from pigs in Davao Occidental had already tested positive for African swine fever, further tests were to be undertaken by the department’s Bureau of Animal Industry for confirmation.

The department said the initial tests covered blood samples from more than a dozen villages in the province.

The provincial government had already imposed a “complete but temporary lockdown”, prohibiting the transport of pigs and pork products from and into Davao Occidental, it said.

“Backyard pig farmers in the area practise group rearing of hogs, from different owners, most (of them without) proper housing provisions or biosecurity practices, ” the department said.

There was also no regular vaccination, vitamin supplementation or deworming of pigs in the province.

Household butchering was common, especially with animals exhibiting weakness or disease, it said.

Around 1,000 pigs in Davao Occidental have been culled amid the outbreak, according to local media reports, citing information from the provincial government.

Philippine agricultural output grew at an annual pace of 0.4% in the last quarter of 2019, slower than the 2.9% gain in the September quarter, as hog production contracted.

Though not harmful to humans, the disease is deadly to pigs, with no vaccine available. — Reuters

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