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Philippines confirms African swine fever

9th Sep 2019 / By Alistair Driver

The Philippines has become the latest country in Asia to confirm an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF).

Hundreds of pigs from various backyard farms died in two towns near the capital, Manila. Agriculture Minister William Dar told the media on Monday that 14 of the 20 blood samples from the provinces of Rizal and Bulacan had tested positive at a UK laboratory. But it would take a week to confirm how virulent the strain is, the Guardian reported.

The authorities have culled more than 7,000 pigs within a one-kilometre (0.6-mile) radius, he said. Other undisclosed areas are being closely monitored for possible infection.

Mr Dar said the country was not facing an epidemic and urged Filipinos to continue eating pork, which accounts for 60% of meat consumption in the Philippines.

Authorities suspect the swine fever cases stemmed from backyard pig keepers, who feed pigs swill, the Guardian report added. The ministry added the virus could also be traced to smuggled frozen meat and returning overseas Filipino workers who brought back infected meat products.

The virus has spread across China since it was first detected there in August 2018, with pig prices reaching record levels on the back of a 30% reduction in the Chinese pig herd.

The virus has also affected Vietnam, where more than 2.6 million pigs have been culled, Mongolia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Hong Kong and North Korea.