The Department of Health (DOH) said the African swine flu (ASF) is not a risk to human health after the Department of Agriculture confirmed that 14 out of 20 pig samples tested positive for the virus.

“We want to allay the fears of the public by saying that, as long as pork is bought from reliable sources and it is cooked thoroughly, pork is safe to eat,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a statement.

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), ASF is a severe and highly contagious viral disease among domestic and wild pigs.

It is commonly introduced into a herd after the feeding on uncooked or under cooked contaminated pork products which are then ingested by the pig, said the statement.

The virus is then spread between pigs by direct contact with an infected pig, or ingestion of contaminated material (such as food waste, feed, or garbage). It can also be transmitted by contaminated fomites or ticks or blood-sucking insects if present.

Pigs infected with the ASF virus experience high fever, depression, loss of appetite, redness of ears, abdomen, and legs, vomiting, and diarrhea that may lead to death.

At present, there is no vaccine or treatment for ASF.

Because ASF can spread easily, hog raisers are advised not to feed raw or under cooked pork products (swill, garbage, or waste) to pigs. Also, to monitor the animals daily for any sign of illness, to isolate those found to be sick, and to contact the veterinarian immediately for medical intervention.

Preventive measures for pig handlers may include hand washing when they get home from a farm or market; and cleaning of shoes, or tires of vehicles used in the pig farm.

“We want to reiterate to the public that ASF is not a threat to human health,” Duque said.

DOH also urges the public to support measures being implemented by the DA and to work closely with concerned agencies in monitoring and responding to significant health events. This is the kind of whole-of-society and whole-of-government approach essential for the successful implementation of the Universal Health Care Law.