Biosecurity alert over swine fever in Manila

Zach RelphCountryman
African swin fever has been detected in the Philippines this week.
Camera IconAfrican swin fever has been detected in the Philippines this week. Credit: Danella Bevis

Australian officials are doubling down on biosecurity measures to protect the nation’s $5.3 billion pork industry from a ravaging swine disease, as its outbreak spreads into another Asian country.

Agricultural industry leaders, scientists and government officials convened in Canberra last Friday to discuss the actions needed to prevent African swine fever from infiltrating Australia.

The meeting was held before reports emerged that ASF, which has no known vaccine and is lethal to pigs, had been detected in the Philippines on Monday.

Senator McKenzie said it was important to prepare for the worst-case scenario, if ASF was ever found on Australia’s mainland.

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“It kills about 80 per cent of pigs it infects and looks like one in four of the world’s pigs will be wiped out by the end of the year,” she said.

“Our first priority is to keep it out of Australia but we also need to make sure we are prepared in case it does arrive; after all, about 15 per cent of the product we’ve confiscated at the border has tested positive.

“China’s says it will have a 10 million-tonne pork deficit this year — that is more than the total amount of pork traded internationally each year.”

On Monday, Philippines Secretary of Agriculture William Dar revealed lab tests confirmed ASF had led to the death of more than 7000 pigs at villages near Manila.

Since ASF was detected in China in August last year, it has been reported in Vietnam, Mongolia, Cambodia, Laos and North Korea.

Australian Pork Limited chief executive Margo Andrae attended last week’s round table.

Ms Andrae said the Australian pork industry was an important contributor to rural and regional economies, generating 36,000 jobs.

“Our industry is very proactive in managing biosecurity risks and today is an important reminder that whether you have a pet pig or 10,000 pigs, you have a responsibility,” she said.

“Most importantly, this devastating disease doesn’t affect people and isn’t in Australia, so all Australians can continue to enjoy pork and pork products.”

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