Understanding the African Swine Fever scare

January 4, 2019 - 11:32 AM
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Pigs Interaksyon
A student feeds pigs at a farm next to a primary school in Xuanwei, Yunnan province, China December 22, 2018. Picture taken December 22, 2018. (REUTERS/Darley Shen)

The government raised concerns over the threat of African Swine Fever entering the country after Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol sacked on Friday the Ninoy Aquino International Airport quarantine team for disregarding protocol on banned pork products.

Piñol on a Facebook post on January 4, Friday said that he was sacking the team for negligence as “a clear message to the Agriculture staff to take heed of administrative directives.”

He said that the team failed to facilitate the completion of a number of required procedures such as the installation of foot bath facilities at all entry points of the country, which according to him, did not materialize due to “procurement issues.”

Piñol in his post listed the eight countries whose pork exports were to be confiscated and destroyed, namely: Belgium, China, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia and Ukraine.

He asked Filipinos to cooperate with the agriculture sector’s policy for the sake of the country’s hog industry.

“I call on the stakeholders of the hog sector to volunteer as “Deputized Quarantine Officers” so that together we will be able to implement the safeguards to protect the industry which is the source of livelihood of millions of Filipino farmers,” he wrote.

Worldwide threat to farming industry 

Although it poses no severe health risk to human beings, the spread of the disease raised an alarm in the agriculture and farming sectors as they could threaten pork supply in the food production sector, according to the World Organization for Animal Health.

The group recommends that hog raisers and slaughterhouses initiate the killing of infected livestock and immediate disposal of the carcasses as the disease may easily spread, sometimes through encounters with wild pigs.

The alarm on the outbreak was raised when a large foreign-invested farm in China reported that more than 4,000 of its pigs were infected and that more than 3,000 had died.

The outbreak has affected the supply chain in China’s meat industry, with operations in slaughterhouses and farms crippled by the measures imposed to push back the spread of the disease.