The Philippines government on Monday confirmed the first case of swine flu recorded in the country, the latest to be affected by a virus that poses a grave threat to the Southeast Asian region''s food security.
Hundreds of pigs from various backyard farms died in at least two provinces due to the disease, which does not affect humans but will, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), potentially endanger the livelihoods of millions of people. Agriculture Minister William Dar told the media on Monday that 14 of the 20 blood samples from the provinces of Rizal and Bulacan, located near the capital, Manila, had tested positive, Efe news reported.
Dar said that President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the creation of a special team to fight the potential outbreak of the virus, which has until now affected some 7,400 pigs. Since the detection of one of the first cases in August 2018 in China, the epidemic has spread across the Asian giant and has also affected Mongolia, Cambodia and Laos.
In Vietnam, more than 2.6 million pigs have been culled in an attempt to control the spread of the disease. The virus causes a highly contagious disease that affects pigs living in farms and no vaccine exists to counter it, which is why mass slaughter remains the only option to contain its spread.