A deadly virus that infects swine has been spreading in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao, killing thousands of pigs and affected hog raisers and farmers.
Philippine authorities have confirmed that the African swine fever infections had spread in the southern part of the country, affecting nearly a third of the nation’s 12.8 million pig herd.
Authorities said the outbreak might have been triggered by food waste from pork products or food brought home by residents from disease-hit areas in the northern part of the country.
Pork smuggled from China, where millions of pigs have been culled because of the disease, caused the first outbreak in the Philippines last year.
In Davao Occidental province, the livelihood of thousands of families has been affected with at least 3,000 pigs already reported dead and over 7,000 more due for culling.
“The shocking epidemic broke the hearts of our people,” read a poem circulated by the Digos Diocese to raise awareness on the virus.
Rocelyn Moda, who wrote the poem, said although the people are “devastated,” they have not lost hope and are praying to God for help.
The outbreak prompted authorities to place the entire province under a state of calamity.
For Angela Albarracin, a resident of Lapuan village, here pigs are here “savings banks.”
“This is devastating to our livelihood,” she said. “The pigs are very important to us. We can easily turn them into cash during emergency or difficult times,” added Albarracin who lost six pigs.
Backyard hog raising will not resume in town for two to three years to give way for the total elimination of the virus.
“This is sad because hog raising is the main source of livelihood for many of our people,” said village chief Medeline Mallari.
The Philippines, the world’s 10th-largest pork consumer and seventh-biggest pork importer reported its first African swine fever outbreaks in September 2019.