70,000 hogs culled since August, ASF task force head says
At least 70,000 hogs have been culled in the Philippines since the presence of African swine fever was detected during the last week of August, the Department of Agriculture said on Wednesday.
In a press briefing in Malacanang, ASF Task Force head Reildrin Morales said the culled pigs comprised only a small percentage of the country's estimated 12.5 million hog population.
"Those that we have already culled is about 70,000 since August, around that figure," he said.
He also explained that those culled pigs were not all infected with ASF.
"At least a third or even less were infected," Morales said, explaining that if one or two of the hogs were tested positive for ASF, other pigs within the 1-kilometer radius would have to be culled.
"We depopulate them because of the risk that the virus would spread," he added.
To prevent the spread of ASF virus, the task force has come up with a zoning plan. It classified the various parts of the country into free zones, meaning no ASF case, such as Visayas and Mindanao and other island provinces; protected zone since risk of contamination is higher because they are contiguous or connected with the areas with cases of ASF; surveillance zones because of ASF cases, such as in Regions III and IV-A; infected zones, areas which actually have cases of ASF; and buffer zone, such as Pangasinan where cases of ASF were reported after a trader brought contaminated hogs from Bulacan.
Asked of the estimated losses since August in the hog industry due to ASF, citing the computation of the businessmen, he said that each pig amounts to P10,000.
Thus, if there were 3,000 pigs that were not slaughtered for a day, this could mean P30 million losses per day or about P900 million pesos per month.
Despite the spread of ASF cases in other parts of the country, the recent of which were in the cities of Caloocan and Malabon, Morales said the situation is still manageable.
"I worked in the eradication of foot and mouth disease in the Philippines. If we are going to look at ASF, I think at this point, the ASF is still managed. The level of spread of the disease is a level that we can call - it's managed," he said.
The official expressed belief that the ASF could still be eradicated in the country if all the stakeholders would cooperate.
"It can be controlled, it can be managed and it can be eradicated," he said.
The first cases of ASF were discovered from hogs fed with swills in Rodriguez, Rizal. Celerina Monte/DMS