Philippines tightens animal, food quarantine measures amid swine fever scare

MANILA, Aug 23 (Reuters) -

* The Philippines’ Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Friday it has banned the transport of live animals, meat products and by-products without a Veterinary Health Certificate from a licensed veterinarian and a relevant shipping permit from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI)

* Agriculture Secretary William Dar, the DA also said, has issued an order directing all provincial and city veterinary and agricultural offices across the country to enforce food safety measures and observe quarantine procedures

* The order followed a DA announcement on Monday that a crisis management team had been set up to determine if deadly African swine fever has reached the Philippines after officials detected a rise in pig deaths in backyard farms

* Dar has sought further laboratory tests to confirm any outbreak of African swine fever in the country, and he said the results could come out in two weeks at the earliest

* The Southeast Asian nation last year put safeguards in place to protect its $5 billion a year hog industry from the highly contagious disease, for which there is no cure and no vaccine; the disease is nearly 100% fatal in pigs but it harmless to people

* The safeguards include a ban on imports of pork and pork-based products from more than a dozen countries hit by African swine fever, including China.

* The DA also ordered checkpoints set up at the entry and exit points of all provinces to closely monitor the transport of live animals, especially pigs, and meat products

* Animals brought to slaughterhouses will be checked by BAI personnel for fever and other signs of any disease, it said in a statement (Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Tom Hogue)