MANILA -- Visayas and Mindanao remain free of African swine fever, which has prompted the culling of some 7,000 hogs in parts of Luzon, the agriculture department said Monday.
The disease is "concentrated" in the provinces of Rizal and Bulacan and in Quezon City, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Noel Reyes told DZMM.
"The ocean is a geographical barrier. Di gaya ng China, it's landlocked kaya kumalat nang todo ang cases (that's why the disease spread)," said Reyes who is also the department spokesperson.
The government is offering a cash aid of P3,000 for every culled pig and a zero-interest loan of P30,000 payable in 3 years to hog raisers, he said.
African swine fever causes hemorrhagic fever in pigs that almost always ends in death. It is not contagious to humans and other animals, authorities earlier said.
Pork accounts for 60 percent of meat consumption in the Philippines, the world's 8th biggest pork producer by volume, with its swine industry estimated at P260 billion, the DA earlier said.
Authorities suspect the swine fever cases stemmed from backyard hog raisers who feed pigs "swill", leftover food scraps from hotels and restaurants.
The agriculture department added the virus could also be traced to smuggled frozen meat and returning overseas Filipino workers who brought back infected meat products.
In May the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization said pork prices had "begun to soar," rising by up to 50 percent both in China and on the Chicago futures exchange.
-- with a report from Agence France-Presse