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Guard dogs


robert roque robroq firing line

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) will make use of sniffing dogs that have been trained to guard or detect the pos­sible entry into the country of meat contaminated by the dreaded African swine fever (ASF).

According to the Bureau of Animal Industry, the canines would be posted in airports and in all ports of entry. In line with this plan, the DA already invited companies providing the service of sniffers.

Earlier, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol tightened security by banning pork imports from Vietnam. Pork products from countries where the American swine fever quickly spread, including China, Japan, Hungary, Belgium, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Moldova, South Africa, and Zambia, were also banned from entering the country.

Piñol also directed all quarantine posts in the Philippines to check the possible entry of pork products in various airports and seaports.

In coordination with other concerned agencies, there is a current mandatory inspection of all vessels docking in Philippine ports with meat supplies and fishing boats returning from the West Philippine Sea due to reports of bartering of sea products with imported meat.

The ASF is described by experts as a contagious, untreatable and often fatal virus sweeping the global pig population and future mutations could allegedly affect humans. It is a highly contagious hemorrhagic disease that affects pigs, warthogs, European wild boar, and American wild pig. Its death rates are as high as 100 percent. According to the United Nations, the disease was first detected in Asia in 2018.

Apart from the restrictions on pork products, the DA should also make certain that travelers and tourists coming from countries that are affected by ASF should undergo 100 percent checking in all airports and seaports to ensure public safety.

The government of Taiwan has been testing samples of pork products from foreign countries since last year when the ASF virus was first detected. Twenty samples from the 928 products that all came from China and have completed the initial inspection were found contaminated with the ASF virus. It also discovered a sample from Vietnam that also contained the ASF virus but no official warning was issued by the Vietnamese.

Although it poses no immediate danger to human health as of now, the spread of the ASF virus could threaten and cause a major impact on our economy. We need to be careful since this virus could very well finish our hog industry if it manages to enter our country.

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