DA Bulletin confirms ASF

A Department of Agriculture (DA) bulletin dated September 9 bared the findings of the Crisis Management Task Force (CMTF) on Swine which announced that the results of the confirmatory Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test was “positive” of African Swine Fever (ASF).

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The bulletin was posted on the social media account of Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar which was a confirmation that the dreaded African swine fever (ASF) has made its presence felt in the Philippines.

Dar, in an earlier post on his social media account, nevertheless said “pork and pork products are safe to eat.” He was seen in a photographed boodle fight with Francisco T. Duque (Department of Health) partaking different pork dishes with DA and DOH officials, hog stakeholders, and members of the private sector.

Dar stressed that as long as the hogs passed through the proper process of slaughtering and preparation, the public should not fear eating pork.

The agriculture secretary said in the post that “before slaughtering, a hog is validated and assessed by a veterinarian, who then issues a medical certificate. Once slaughtered, the meats are stamped with a seal from the National Meat Inspection Service, assuring that is has passed the food safety measures imposed by the government.”

Secretary Duque, for his part, declared that local meat does not impose a threat to human health, and reiterated that as long as it is prepared and cooked properly, it is safe for human consumption.

The PCR test is conducted to find small amounts of DNA in a sample, using a process known as amplification. “During PCR amplification,” explains the website, verywellhealth.com, “the DNA of interest is copied repeatedly until there is enough of it for analysis and detection.”

“We have yet to receive the viral isolation test from UK (United Kingdom),” the bulletin clarified.

It must be recalled that when reports of “abnormal swine deaths in backyard farms” occurred in small backyard farms in Rizal and Bulacan provinces, the DA immediately directed the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) to collect and send blood samples to the World Reference Laboratory in Pirbright, England.

Aside from being the reference laboratory for ASF, UK is also the based of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), an intergovernmental organization which coordinates, supports and promotes animal disease control.

Reacting to the bulletin, Dr. Jaime A. Sison, a veterinarian who specializes in pig and chicken, said symptoms of ASF include high fever, decreased appetite, skin lesions and diarrhea.

“The tricky thing about diagnosing a potential case of AASF is that it can look a lot like other more common diseases,” said Sison. “(Symptoms of ASF) is just like those of the common porcine epidemic diarrhea virus or classical swine fever.” He urged swine farmers to report any suspected outbreaks to their local animal health officers, as it is much easier to test a false positive than to contain an outbreak that’s festered for days.

“ASF’s real calling card is its mortality rate: it claims almost all infected animals with 7-10 days of showing symptoms, and some drop dead much earlier – without showing any outward signs of illness,” the veterinarian reacted.

The DA bulletin assured the public that it has “successfully managed the issue.”