What you need to know about the African Swine Fever

Contrary to the growing worry about the African Swine Fever (ASF), the virus spreading among pigs is harmless to human health.

What is the African Swine Fever?

The virus was first detected in Sub-Saharan Africa in the 1920s, although the first outbreak was recorded in Portugal in 1957. Despite years of research for cure, there is still no official vaccine yet proven to eradicate the virus.

ASF is defined as a transboundary animal disease caused by a double-stranded DNA virus which leads to a fatal hemorrhagic fever to the affected animal. Symptoms of the infection include appetite loss, redness of the skin, vomiting and diarrhea. Controlling and preventing the infection is highly prioritized as the transmission is quick, but the disease is hard to detect, and it may take days before the symptoms show.

The spread of the ASF jumped from Africa to Europe through the exportation of contaminated meat. Through the years, the virus rapidly spread throughout countries in Europe, Africa, America and Asia. Just recently, the virus has entered the boundaries of China – which led to the cull of more than a million pigs up to date. As China is the biggest producer of pork, this is projected to greatly impact the market and the economy, with a decrease in supply and an increase in prices of pork meat.

Although the virus is harmless to human health, it is relevant to heighten security measures to prevent the virus from spreading – in line with the high transmission rate, the lack of cure, and the ability of the virus to withstand extreme conditions. It has also been noted that the virus can survive even in processed meat such as corned pork, bacon and maling.

What can be done to prevent ASF from spreading?

So far, the virus has not yet entered the Philippines, and security measures are tightened to prevent it from entering the country’s boundaries.

Aside from ensuring that infected animals and meat will not enter our market, it is important to practice preventive measures such as ensuring proper hygiene for the animals, providing clean feed, constant monitoring for signs of infection and a tighter security against illegal importation of meat.

In line with this, the Department of Agriculture (DA) implemented a temporary ban on the importation of pork and pork products from 16 ASF affected countries which includes Hungary, Poland, Vietnam and China. DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol also assured that aside from the ban, the department will carry out tighter securities to ensure that the country will remain ASF-free. Part of this effort is to station meat-sniffing dogs in international airports and the implementation of a stricter inspection by the Bureau of Customs for the belongings of incoming passengers from ASF-affected countries.

References:

  • https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2019-eliminating-african-swine-fever/
  • http://www.oie.int/en/animal-health-in-the-world/animal-diseases/african-swine-fever/
  • https://www.sanidadanimal.info/en/104-emerging-diseases/379-african-swine-fever
  • https://www.wur.nl/en/article/African-swine-fever-in-Europe.htm
  • https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1068760
  • https://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/13911-african-swine-fever-disrupts-world-protein-picture
  • https://www.rappler.com/nation/220019-philippines-ban-pork-from-8-countries-african-swine-fever