The Department of Health (DOH) said Monday that the African Swine Fever (ASF) is not a risk to human health following the confirmation of positive ASF cases.
In a statement, health secretary Francisco Duque III said that pork meat is safe for human consumption provided that it is cook thoroughly.
“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,” he said.
Duque said that 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.
Currently, there is no vaccine or treatment for ASF.
Because ASF can spread easily, hog raisers are advised not to feed raw or undercooked pork products.
Raisers should also 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 washings 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,” the health chief concluded.
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 undercooked contaminated pork products which are then ingested by the pig.
The virus is then spread between pigs by direct contact with an infected pig or ingestion of contaminated material.
Previously, the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) said that the entry of pork meat products in Palawan has not been banned by animal and industry authorities despite the threat of the ASF virus.
PVO supervising veterinarian Dr. Benito del Rosario said they have set up veterinary and quarantine services with the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) that will focus on monitoring and inspecting them to ensure that the virus that causes hemorrhagic fever in domestic pigs will not get into the province.
Del Rosario said that the ban is not likely to happen unless the problem becomes serious because Palawan does not have enough pork meat supply locally to meet the daily demands of hotels and food establishments.
“Hindi siguro natin puwedeng ipagbawal ang pagpasok ng mga [pork] meat products kasi ang mga restaurants and kainan dito ay may maintaining volume of meat na hindi kaya kung local lang ang magsu-supply. Wala ka talagang ibang choice kung 150 kilos ang kailangan araw-araw ng isang establishment,” Del Rosario said.
The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has intensified its monitoring of imported meat products entering Palawan through the Puerto Princesa City International Airport (PPCIA), amidst fear of the spread of the virus.
The BAI said they confiscate sausages, fresh pork, chicken meat, boiled eggs, and other meat products that lack meat permits from their agency.
Elma Soriano, BAI livestock inspector, said most of the meat products they confiscate are from Incheon, Korea, which has a daily flight to Palawan, and Taipei, Taiwan that has a twice weekly flight.
“Yong mga sausages kasi parang pagkain lang nila, siguro hindi nauubos, nabibili lang nila doon, dinadala lang nila rito. Wala sila kasing documents, sanitary permits na maipapakita. ‘Yon ang advice sa amin, kung walang papel, confiscated na siya,” Soriano said.
Meanwhile, the health department is also urging the public to support measures being implemented by the DA and to work closely with concerned agencies in monitoring and responding to significant possible health threats.