DA strengthens watch vs threat of African Swine Fever
MANILA, Philippines–The Department of Agriculture (DA) is strengthening its watch against the threat of African Swine Fever (ASF) entering the country after the government of Cambodia reported an outbreak of the disease on Wednesday.
Cambodia is now the second Southeast Asian country that have been hit by ASF after Vietnam in February, and local industry stakeholders are worried that without stringent security measures, the virus may find its way into the Philippines next.
Aside from issuing a temporary ban on the entry of pork and pork products from Cambodia, the DA has also started deploying “meat-sniffing” dogs in international airports all over the country.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said on a Facebook post that some 55 German Shepherds from Talisay City, Negros Occidental would be commissioned by the Bureau of Animal Industry to monitor incoming goods at airports.
These dogs would undergo training on area familiarization and meat sniffing to ensure that no ASF-infected meat could enter the country.
While ASF does not pose any health risks to humans, it has the capacity to destroy livestock production if left uncontrolled, especially since there is no known vaccine to prevent it.
Countries like China and Vietnam that were penetrated by the disease saw a huge cut in their respective livestock industries, and groups Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura and the National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. (NFHF) are worried that the P200-billion local livestock industry could also be at risk.
NFHF President Chester Warren Tan earlier said that his group proposed to the DA a ban on the importation of pork products from “high-risk” areas, or those near ASF-infected countries, “but they told us that they cannot do that unless an outbreak is reported.”
So far, a ban is currently imposed on 15 countries with unresolved cases of ASF. /jpv
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