MANILA — The Department of Health on Monday assured the public that the African swine fever (ASF) does not pose a risk on human health.
In a statement, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also reminded the public to cook pork "thoroughly" to prevent contracting illnesses from half-cooked meat.
"We want to allay the fears of the public by saying that, as long as pork is bought from reliable sources and it is cooked thoroughly, pork is safe to eat," Duque said.
The Health department also advised hog raisers not to feed raw and undercooked pork products to pigs as these may be sources of the ASF virus.
Pig handlers, meanwhile, are advised to wash their hands when they get home from a farm or market, and clean their shoes or vehicle tires used in pig farms.
Duque issued the statement after the Department of Agriculture reported early Monday the first cases of ASF in the country.
Fourteen of 20 pig's blood samples sent by the Philippines to the United Kingdom tested positive for ASF, said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
The affected areas in parts of Rizal and Bulacan are now considered "cleared" of the disease after some 7,416 pigs there were culled, Dar said.
Dar added that pork products sold in the market with seals from the National Meat Inspection Service are safe to eat.
Citing the World Organisation for Animal Health, the DOH described ASF as a "severe and highly contagious viral disease among domestic and wild pigs."
Pigs infected with ASF may experience high fever, depression, loss of appetite, redness of ears, abdomen, and legs, vomiting, and diarrhea that may lead to death, according to the DOH.
Since late 2018, the Philippines has banned banned pork and pork-based products from countries hit by the ASF.