Philippines on alert for swine fever as pig deaths rise

Reports from local news site, Phil Star, say that the authorities in the Philippines are already culling pigs in an area of Luzon and a crisis management team has been established in efforts to contain the possible entry of African swine fever.

The Bureau of Animal Industry had reported an increased mortality of pigs "raised by farmers in their backyards", but further laboratory tests were needed to confirm any outbreak of swine fever, Agriculture Secretary William Dar announced today (19 August).

The Southeast Asian nation last year put safeguards in place to protect its $5 billion hog industry from the highly contagious disease, for which there is no cure and no vaccine, reports Reuters.

It has so far banned pork and pork-based products from more than a dozen countries, including Vietnam, Laos and China, where the outbreak has spread throughout the mainland, as well as to Hong Kong.

The crisis team will implement measures to "manage, contain and control the suspected animal disease or diseases," Dar said in a media briefing.

He had directed the bureau to conduct further confirmatory laboratory tests, including sending blood samples to foreign laboratories, to determine the cause of the pigs' deaths.

Dar declined to specify the areas where the deaths occurred, and said the tests would be completed in two weeks at the earliest.

The Philippines' import ban also covers pork and pork-based products from Germany, North Korea, Belgium, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Moldova, South Africa, Zambia, and Mongolia.