The government strongly appeals to small backyard hog raisers not to sell their ASF-infected pigs to traders. As stated by the Agriculture Secretary, William Dar, the government also warns traders not to sell infected hogs, pork and processed products so as not to spread the virus to other areas. However, the government stressed that the disease is not an epidemic in the country.
Recently, the officials confiscated packet processed pork items from a local traveler, mostly homemade and also “branded” products, which was tested positive infected by the virus. The contaminated products include sausages, hot dogs, as well as cured meat. The ministry also mentioned that the virus could also be traced to smuggled frozen meat as well as the returning overseas Filipino workers who brought back infected meat products.
The Philippines is the world’s eighth-biggest pork producer by volume with an estimated 260 billion pesos swine industry, according to the agriculture department. The country is also known as the world’s seventh-biggest pork importer and the world’s 10th largest pork consumer which eats about 15 kg of pork a year.
The total population of pig in the country is recorded around 13 million heads, including a 1.75 million sow population. Around 40% of the total pig inventory is located in 3 regions in the country: Central Luzon (17%), Northern Mindanao (13%) and Western Visayas (10%).
Although humans are immune to the disease, it poses a major threat to the global protein industry. There is no vaccine or antidote, and the known method to prevent the disease from spreading is only a mass cull of affected livestock.
The ASF has spread rapidly across Asia over the last year. The first official outbreak was in China in August 2008 and has spread to other Asian countries, such as Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Mongolia and North Korea.
China has been hit particularly hard by the virus, as the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization stated that pork prices had risen up to 50% in China. As for the countries like the US and Australia, the disease has not yet appeared, but the governments are stepping up checks at airports and also dispersing advice on biosecurity.