African swine fever deaths rise to 70,000; over 40,000 pigs at risk


By Madeleine Miraflor, Manila Bulletin (Philippines) 

November 6, 2019


More than 40,000 hogs in the Philippines are now at risk of contracting the deadly swine disease African swine fever (ASF) while the virus has already resulted in the death and culling of about 70,000 pigs in more areas in Luzon.


This developed as the ASF, a fatal animal disease among hogs, already crept into the third district of the country’s capital, Manila, and continues to kill more hogs in Bulacan and Pampanga.


In a notification to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the country’s Chief Veterinary Officer and Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) Director Ronnie Domingo said that 40,480 pigs in the Philippines are now susceptible to contract the deadly swine disease amid the rising ASF outbreaks across Luzon.


The report also revealed that backyard farms in Malabon and Caloocan were also recently hit by the virus.


Industry sources confirmed this, noting that ASF struck these areas two weeks ago.


ASF Crisis Management Team Head Rieldrin Morales said ASF was first detected in Rizal Province in August and had since then spread to Cavite, Quezon City, Pangasinan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, and Antipolo.


Of these areas, Bulacan and Pampanga were the hardest hit, recording more than 20,000 hog deaths each.


The country’s latest report to OIE showed that the virus has been spreading fast in these two provinces, with more than 500 new ASF cases detected amid reports that some backyard hog raisers in Caloocan began dumping their dead hogs in Bulacan.


In total, there are now 555 actual ASF cases in the Philippines, pushing the total number of ASF outbreaks to 24.


BAI told the OIE that the source of these outbreaks has remained “unknown or inconclusive,” but it also suspects that the cause of the spread are “illegal movement of animals, swill feeding, and fomites (humans, vehicles, feed, etc.).”


ASF can’t infect humans and is not considered a food safety risk, but it can be spread indirectly through people’s clothing, footwear, vehicles, farm equipment, and livestock feed.


Morales said the local hog industry, valued at P260 billion as of last year, is losing about P900 million per month because of ASF.


So far, measures applied by the Philippine government to control the spread of the virus include...