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African Swine Fever Spreading in the Philippines

10/03/2019

Following an initial delay in confirming the presence of African swine fever in Rizal where hogs in backyard operations showed acute high mortality, further outbreaks have been reported in Quezon City near the capital, Manilla and in Pangasinan Province in the North of the Nation.

An interesting comment in news reports is that the Bureau of Animal Industry confirmed “swine fever virus in blood samples”. If in fact viremic hogs are diagnosed using PCR, rapid diagnosis is possible. If however the authorities are relying on demonstration of antibodies to ASF, cases will be missed and delays will occur in confirming a diagnosis since in most cases death precedes antibody production.

In the absence of a vaccine rapid herd depopulation and strict quarantines are necessary to control the infection. Anecdotal reports suggest that farmers attempted to dispose of dead hogs by dumping carcasses in waterways. This occurred in China leading to further dissemination of virus.

Authorities in Quezon City are considering a ban on backyard hogs. This will be a difficult rule to enforce and house-to-house inspection will result in transmission of infection. Of the 13 million estimated hog population in the Philippines, eight million are in backyard farms devoid of biosecurity.