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Philippines confirms first swine fever cases

11 September 2019

Samples from dead pigs in a backyard herd tested positive at a lab in the United Kingdom.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said 14 of 20 blood samples sent to a British lab tested positive for the disease but further tests were needed to ascertain the virulence of the virus.

In a follow-up report, Philippines agriculture officials announced Monday that samples from pigs in small backyard farms in Rizal province near Manila tested positive for African Swine fever (ASF).

The Central Emergency Operation Center for African Swine Fever yesterday added the Philippines to its list of nations affected by African swine fever after Manila earlier in the day confirmed an outbreak there. There are new incident areas from initially three locations in Rizal and Bulacan provinces, he said.

The Department of Agriculture is verifying reports of infections in other areas, Dar said, but he refused to identify the areas.

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Dar said over 7,400 pigs have been culled so far, which included all affected hogs as well as those which have not been inflicted but are located within the 1-km radius of the affected facilities.

"What hit us we don't know among the 35 strains", Dar said, referring to the different strains of the virus with varying degrees of lethality.

With the addition of the Philippines, a fine of NT$200,000 (US$6,400) will be imposed on people arriving from that country found to be carrying pork or pork products, if they are first-time offenders, the center said in a press release.

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, African swine fever is not a risk to human health. All affected areas have now been cleared, he said.

Dar maintained that importation of pork and pork-based products from more than a dozen countries, including Vietnam, Laos, Hong Kong, and China, is banned in the Philippines.

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African swine fever threatens pig populations, as there is no known cure and no vaccine.

ASF is a highly contagious hemorrhagic disease of domestic and wild pigs of all ages.

Until the import ban, it was the world's seventh-largest importer of pork.

The virus is not harmful to humans but causes haemorrhagic fever in pigs that nearly always ends in death.

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Philippines confirms first swine fever cases