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African Swine Fever Crisis: Philippines Placed Under State of Calamity

African Swine Fever Crisis: Philippines Placed Under State of Calamity

MANILA, Philippines – On May 10, following the recommendation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, President Duterte signed Proclamation No. 1143. The order places the whole country under a state of calamity for one year due to the African swine fever crisis¹.

Is this another threat to public health?

Background on the ASF issue in the Philippines

The Department of Agriculture confirmed the first ASF outbreak in the country on July 25, 2019. Since then, the crisis has spread to 12 regions, 46 provinces, 493 cities, and more than 2,500 barangays across the Philippines¹.

ASF is a highly deadly and contagious viral disease affecting pigs of all ages³. It spreads through direct and indirect contact with infected hogs and contaminated objects and the ingestion of contaminated materials, like food waste, garbage, and feeds⁴.

asf issue ine philippines

The hog disease causes vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and bleeding. Reports say the mortality rate may be as high as 100%, and that infected pigs usually die within 6 to 13 days⁴.

While the disease does not affect human health and is in no way a food safety concern, it can cause serious production and economic losses, especially among hog raisers. To date, hog sectors and related industries already lost PHP100 billion¹.

Due to the ASF issue, the Philippines saw a significant dip in its hog population by up to 3 million pigs. Retail prices of pork products also continue to increase¹.

The proclamation aims to help ease the situation

Placing the country under the state of calamity allows the national and local government units to use appropriate funds to mitigate the effects of the ASF outbreak. The directive aims to stop the spread of ASF, address the dip in hog supply, reduce the prices of pork products, and initiate the rehabilitation of the hog industry.

The proclamation will be in effect for one year, unless otherwise lifted or extended.

Mixed reactions from concerned organizations

The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), has responded to the declaration positively. They expressed hope that the funds will compensate affected industries and jumpstart the rehabilitation process².

Chester Tan, the chairman of the National Federation of Hog Farmers, has also said the directive is a welcome development. However, he thinks it’s a little late, particularly for the affected hog farms in North Luzon².

Like SINAG, NFHF has similar concerns over fund allocation and hopes the money will not be used to purchase freezers or other measures that will only benefit swine importers².

It is worth noting that President Duterte also inked Executive Order No. 133², a directive increasing the minimum amount of imported pork from 54,210 metric tons to 254, 210 MT.

The DOH assures the public: ASF is not a health threat

The Department of Health assures the public that the ASF issue in the Philippines is not a public health concern.

The viral disease cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans⁶.

Experts also recommend the following food safety practices⁷:

  • Wash hands before and after food preparation and consumption.
  • Keep surfaces, such as countertops and cutting boards, clean.
  • Separate raw meat from other food items, especially from ready-to-eat products.
  • Use separate cutting boards for raw meat, chicken, and seafood.
  • Cook meat at the right temperature; 63 C or 145 F for a whole cut of beef and pork with a 3-minute resting time before carving or eating.
  • Refrigerate perishables within 1 to 2 hours, and keep fridge temperatures at or below 40 F or 4.4 C.

Amidst the ASF issue in the Philippines, the Department of Health also urges Filipinos to only purchase meat and pork from reliable sources and cook them thoroughly before serving. In a press release, the DoH stated that as long as people do this, pork is safe to eat. – Hello Doctor

More Health News here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

1) Proclamation No. 1143: Declaring a state of calamity throughout the Philippines due to the African Swine Fever outbreak
https://pcoo.gov.ph/news_releases/proclamation-no-1143-declaring-a-state-of-calamity-throughout-the-philippines-due-to-the-african-swine-fever-outbreak/
Accessed May 12, 2021

2) Duterte places PH under state of calamity due to ASF, raises MAV for pork imports in 2021
https://cnnphilippines.com/news/2021/5/11/Duterte-ASF-state-of-calamity-higher-MAV-pork-imports.html
Accessed May 12, 2021

3) African Swine Fever (ASF)
https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/swine-disease-information/african-swine-fever/seminar
Accessed May 12, 2021

4) African swine fever
https://www.oie.int/en/disease/african-swine-fever/
Accessed May 12, 2021

5) ASF situation in Asia update
http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/programmes/en/empres/ASF/2019/Situation_update_2019_10_10.html#:~:text=halt%20further%20spread.-,The%20Philippines,have%20been%20culled%20%5Breference2%5D.
Accessed May 12, 2021

6) COOK PORK THOROUGHLY TO AVOID GETTING SICK
https://doh.gov.ph/press-release/cook-pork-thoroughly-to-avoid-getting-sick#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20World%20Organisation,then%20ingested%20by%20the%20pig.
Accessed May 12, 2021

7) Four Steps to Food Safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill
https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/keep-food-safe.html
Accessed May 12, 2021

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated May 12
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
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