MANILA -- Fourteen of 20 pig's blood samples sent to the United Kingdom tested positive for African swine fever or ASF, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said Monday, as he assured the public that measures were in place to contain the disease.
Some 7,416 pigs within the 1-kilometer radius of the affected areas in parts of Rizal and Bulacan have been culled, Dar said. These areas are now considered "cleared" of the disease, he said.
The result of a separate test, which will determine strain and virulence of ASF, is still pending, he said. The area was quarantined in August after some hogs fell sick and died.
"We continue to monitor, even beyond the 10-kilometer radius. So far, so good. No incidents," Dar told reporters.
Pork products sold in the market that have the NMIS or National Meat Inspection Service seal are safe to eat, he said, as he advised the public, especially those coming from abroad, to refrain from bringing home pork products from countries with ASF.
"Mahirap ma-contain kung walang partisipasyon ng komunidad o mga tao... Lahat, dapat natin gagawin, tulong-tulong otherwise, as you said, it will be a lingering issue," he said.
(It will be difficult to contain if there is no community participation... We should do everything, cooperate, otherwise, as you said, it will be a lingering issue.)
Farmers whose pigs were slaughtered were given cash aid, Dar said. The disease was first detected in some parts of Rodriguez and Antipolo in Rizal and in a stockyard in Guiguinto, Bulacan.
The Philippines currently has 12 million hogs in its inventory and the industry is worth roughly P260 billion, Dar said.
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.
It has 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.
African swine fever causes high fever, loss of appetite, hemorrhages, and death among domestic and wild pigs. It does not pose a health risk to humans. -- with a report from Reuters