Only one-third of about 20,000 pigs slaughtered in various areas in Luzon were infected by African swine fever, the Department of Agriculture clarified on Saturday.
“Only one-third of the 20,000 we culled were ASF-infected. All the rest just happened to be within a one-kilometer radius [of the suspected outbreak],” DA spokesperson Noel Reyes told GMA News TV.
Culling the pigs, whether infected or not, within the one-kilometer radius of suspected farms is necessary to contain the ASF virus from spreading, Reyes explained.
“That’s the 1-7-10 protocol. Within one kilometer, whether sick or healthy, pigs needed to be culled to contain the virus,” he added.
Under the protocol, quarantine checkpoints are set up within a 1-kilometer radius of suspected farms to monitor the movement of live pigs, pork, and pork products.
Within a 7-kilometer radius, authorities conduct surveillance and limit animal movement, while farm owners within a 10-kilometer radius are mandated to report any disease to the DA.
Earlier, Agriculture Secretary William Dar threatened legal action against hog traders who ignore strict animal quarantine rules.
The culled pigs or those that have died because of the disease in the country since last month was a small fraction of the Philippines’ swine herd, estimated at 12.7 million heads as of July 1.
A highly contagious hemorrhagic disease, ASF infects pigs, warthogs, European wild boar, and American wild pigs, according to World Organisation for Animal Health or Office International des Epizooties (OIE).
While it may affect the swine industry, ASF poses no threat to human health, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III emphasized.