Western Visayas stands to lose billions of pesos in the hog industry if the African swine fever (ASF), a highly contagious viral disease that affects pigs, enters the region.
Dr. Jonic Natividad, Department of Agriculture (DA-6) Regulatory Division chief, said the industry would incur losses of about 20 billion should the disease spreads in the region.
Last week, the DA confirmed the existence of ASF in the Visayas.
A report by state-run Philippine News Agency said blood samples taken from hogs in Abuyog, Leyte have tested positive for ASF.
According to DA-8 (Eastern Visayas) Regional Director Angel Enriquez, the region's first case was detected in backyard farms in the villages of Can-aporong and Bunga where unusual swine mortality was reported late last year.
Meanwhile, Natividad assured that stricter measures are in place to prevent the entry into Western Visayas of ASF.
He urged the public to immediately report to barangay councils, local government units (LGUs), or DA’s offices any unusual pig death in their areas to contain the spread of ASF.
Natividad also told consumers to check the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) seal at market stalls and on the pork meat itself as proof of safety.
ASF causes high fever, lose their appetite, internal bleeding, and death among pigs.
The NMIS said ASF does not pose a health risk to humans but they can become carriers of the virus once tainted pork is ingested or if people get close to the infected meat.
There is no known vaccine against ASF yet.