“I feel I would love to close down for a number of years in some way and just be in the country making pork pies and chutneys and never have to poke my head out of the parapet.” –Stephen Fry
With Iloilo and Iloilo City banning the entry of pork products from areas affected by African swine fever, it appears Ilonggos will be celebrating the yuletide season without pork. Both provincial and city officials issued executive order implementing a 90-day ban. While there have not been any earth-shattering reports surrounding the virus impacting Iloilo’s swing industry, both Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor, Jr. and Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas are looking to ensure the multi-billion peso industry is safe.
The word “pig” usually refers to immature swine, while “hog” denotes mature swine. However, when referring to one animal, it’s either a gilt, a female prior to having first litter; barrow, a castrated male; or a boar, an uncastrated male. Pig, hog, and boar essentially describe the same animal but there are some distinctions. A boar can also mean a domestic wild pig of any gender, a hog often described a domestic pig that weighs more than 54 kilograms, and pigs can also be called swine. In addition, in the King James Version of the Bible, it reads: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them.”
It is too bad a panic surrounding swine fever came during “the most wonderful time of the year.”
African swine fever is caused by the African swine fever virus, which infects domestic pigs, warthogs, and bushpigs. Transmission occurs through direct contact between healthy and sick animals, or indirect contact through infected feed or through biological vectors, such as soft ticks. The disease is reportedly endemic to the southern Africa, as well as on the Iberian Peninsula and in Sardinia. Sporadic outbreaks have reportedly occurred in other European countries as well, in Belgium in 1985 and in the Netherlands in 1986; along with cases in the Caribbean and Brazil.
With around one billion individuals alive at any time, the domestic pig is arguably among the most populous large mammals in the world today. Pigs are omnivores and can reportedly consume a wide range of food. They are biologically similar to humans and are frequently used for human medical research. The effect on a swine herd can reportedly vary depending on the strain, from near 100 percent mortality to cases of low-virulence, or when there is a low degree of damage.
When an outbreak occurs, financial and physical implications can be devastating to the swine industry. During outbreaks in Malta and the Dominican Republic, for example, swine herds were completely wiped out.
Alex P. Vidal, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo./WDJ