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Philippines start pig cullings due to ASF fears

Pig cullings are ongoing in the Philippines in what may be the first outbreaks of African Swine Fever in the country.

According to a report in the Philippines’ newspaper Inquirer, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has ordered the culling of hogs. In the report, it is stated that agriculture secretary William Dar neither confirmed nor denied reports that ASF had reached the archipelago, but mostly that the agency had received a report on Friday on ‘increased mortality of pigs raised in their backyards’. There would be roughly 20% mortality, where 3-5% mortality would be common.

No official report about ASF has reached the World Organisation for Animal Health. However, in recent entries to new countries, like in Myanmar and Serbia, the detection of African Swine Fever (ASF) followed a pretty much similar pattern. Local media would often report about cullings, only later official confirmation about ASF would be reported.

If indeed the virus has made the jump to the Philippines, it is a major blow to all who were hopeful that the sea would provide sufficient protection to keep the virus out. The Philippines would be the 9th country in Asia where the virus is confirmed, after Russia, China, Mongolia, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

As a result of this news, Taiwan has already started scrutinising even the carry-on luggage of passengers travelling from the Philippines, the Taiwan News reported. According to the Taiwanese, there would be cases in Bulacan and Rizal provinces, both adjacent to Manila at the island Luzon.

ASF in Laos and Myanmar

In the meantime, the virus keeps spreading in other countries in South East Asia. Late last week, the virus was confirmed in 8 locations in 3 northern provinces of Laos, bringing the total of affected provinces in Laos to 6.

The virus has also been found in Myanmar as from last week. For now, 2 outbreaks have been confirmed, both in Shan State, close to the border with China.

ASF in China

Updated official figures from the Chinese ministry of agriculture (MARA) show that the country’s pig herd has shrunk by 32.2% in comparison to July 2018. News agency Reuters wrote that the number of sows reportedly has gone down by 31.9% year-on-year. It is likely that numbers will fall further.

Read more about pig health in the Pig Progress Health Tool