Gov’t assures measures vs. African swine fever in place

MANILA The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) on Wednesday said appropriate measures are already in place to avert the possible entry of the dreaded African swine fever (ASF) in the country.

During the Senate agriculture and food committee hearing on the ASF virus, BAI director Ronnie Domingo said the government is implementing strategies, dubbed as "BABES" approach, to prevent a local outbreak.

ASF is a highly contagious viral disease affecting both domestic and wild pigs of all ages with up to 100 percent fatality rate. However, it is not a public health threat nor food-safety concern.

"ASF is a serious disease challenge requiring multi-sectoral and multi-level cooperation," Domingo said.

Under the BABES approach, Domingo said the importation of domestic and wild pigs, their meat, meat products, and by-products from ASF-affected countries is banned.

The pork import ban is in effect for 15 countries: Russia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Moldava, South Africa, Zambia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium, Latvia, Poland, Romania, China, Mongolia, and Vietnam.

Aside from the ban on pork imports, Domingo said other steps under the BABES approach include avoiding swill feeding; blocking entry of smuggled shipments and luggage from ASF-affected countries, food wastes from foreign vessels and hand-carried meat products; educating the public; and submitting laboratory samples.

There was already a directive for all quarantine stations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) "to establish footbaths in all entry points of the country, the interception and confiscation of all pork-based products."

Domingo said among the future preparations to prevent the ASF outbreak is to acquire 40 meat-sniffing dogs and 100 additional workers, establish local quick response teams, conduct outbreak simulation exercises, craft a national biosecurity plan, draft a legislation on animal health code, and declare a state of emergency. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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