Possible shortage in pork meat products feared

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With chicken supply now at critical levels, particularly in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is mobilizing its resources to avert a possible shortage, but this time in pork meat products.

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In an administrative circular, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala on Thursday called on local hog raisers to adopt measures to prevent further occurrence and spread of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED), which already caused massive losses in swine population in other countries.

“There is a pressing need to strengthen our animal health programs for PED and other swine diseases such as classical swine fever, and the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome,” Alcala said.

The DA chief noted that there are reported cases of PED in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Japan that gravely threaten their swine industry due to huge losses in hog population. Manila, which still imports 30 percent of its pork meat requirements, is sourcing its raw materials from the US and Canada.

Alcala said PED has been diagnosed in the Philippines since 2006 and, recently, there were reported outbreaks of the disease in some backyard and commercial farms in the country, particularly in Region 3 and Region 4.

“There are also many field cases of non-specific diarrhea reported to the Philippine Animal Health Information System (PhilAHIS) last year,” he added.

Records showed that since 2005, PED outbreaks due to “Korean” strains have been a major feature of the pig farming industries of East Asia, particularly in the Philippines, which had several imports of Korean pigs during the period.

Alcala, however, said PED is not listed by the World Organization for Animal Health since it cannot be transmitted to humans and thus poses no danger to human health. The virus is most serious in neonatal piglets where morbidity and mortality can be 80 percent to 100 percent.

To protect the local stock, Alcala urged hog raisers and industry stakeholders to immediately report within 24 hours all suspected PED cases to concerned local veterinarians and agriculture personnel.

They should also submit samples of suspected PED cases to the Philippine Animal Health Center of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), or to the nearest DA-Regional Animal Disease Diagnostics Laboratory for testing.

For backyard and commercial hog growers, the DA chief said they should intensify the implementation of strict farm biosecurity measures, while previously affected farms should vaccinate healthy pigs using only BAI-registered vaccines, and avoid the use of smuggled or illegal vaccines.

“Promotion of the strengthening of animal health programs for other swine diseases is strongly advised,” Alcala added.

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