THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said that it is still narrowing down the cause of unusual swine mortality in backyard farms and has zeroed in on a handful of economically significant hog diseases listed by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), including African Swine Fever (ASF).

The other diseases it has not yet ruled out are viral diseases like classical swine fever, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, transmissible gastroenteritis, and the Nipah virus, which can also infect humans and can cause ecephalitis, among others; as well as the pork tapeworm Taenia solium, which causes Porcine cysticerosis, which is also transmissible to humans.

In a news conference Wednesday, the DA said affected hogs are showing symptoms such as loss of appetite, recumbency, vomiting, skin hemorrhages, dark discoloration in the extremities, and sudden death.

“We expect to receive the results at the earliest in two weeks, or the latest three months,” DA said in a statement. No details were given as to the location of affected farms.

The DA announced on Monday that it has received reports of increased hog mortality, which was “2% beyond normal,” in areas it did not identify. Reports from international media noted that Taiwan is imposing special baggage checks on passengers from the Philippines after a suspected outbreak of ASF in Bulacan and Rizal, which Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar declined to comment on.

DA said it has initiated a precautionary cull of pigs in the affected area and has sent samples from the herd for testing. It said hogs from the affected area are not allowed to move to other parts of the country, according to quarantine procedures.

The DA added that the meat supply is currently adequate.

“In partnership with local government units, the private sector and PNP (Philippine National Police), we and the DA-BAI (DA-Bureau of Animal Industry and concerned DA-RFOs (DA-Regional Field Offices) will vigorously conduct joint monitoring of the movement of live pigs, pork and pork-related products in suspected infected swine farms,” DA said. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang