Philippines bans pork imports from Mexico, US

PhilippinesManila - The Philippines' agriculture department Saturday ordered a ban on the importation of pigs and pork products from Mexico and the United States amid an outbreak of swine flu virus in the two countries. The virus is suspected to have killed 68 people in Mexico over the past three weeks, while at least eight people have been infected in the US.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said he ordered the import ban as a "precautionary measure" despite no links so far between swine farms and the outbreak.

"I ordered the Bureau of Animal Industry to strengthen the monitoring of all the ports of entry to prevent the entry of any hogs or pork from Mexico and the US," he said.

Yap also ordered the "augmentation of existing quarantine checkpoints to further prevent the movement of sick pigs."

While stressing that there was no outbreak of swine flu in the Philippines, Yap ordered the bureau to lift a restriction on the use of swine influenza vaccine and "encourage hog farmers to regularly vaccinate their pigs."

The swine flu virus is typically found only in pigs or in people who have direct contact with pigs. Symptoms of the illness include very high sudden fever, headaches, red eyes, nasal flow and coughing.(dpa)

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