DA chief seeks containment of ASF after reported cases in Davao Occidental
Following the reported African Swine Fever (ASF) incidence in Davao Occidental, Agriculture Secretary William Dar has urged hog raisers and traders for their cooperation to prevent the spread of the hog disease in southern Philippines.
"Secretary Dar calls for strong cooperation among hog raisers and traders to stop transport and sale of live hogs, and pork products from suspected areas," Noel Ocampo Reyes, Department of Agriculture (DA) spokesman, said on Sunday.
Reyes said the DA-Regional Field Office 11 (RFO11) quick response team, together with Davao Occidental provincial veterinary office and municipal agriculture office of Don Marcelino, conducted an investigation in eight affected barangays (Linadasan, North Lamidian, South Lamidian, Calian, Mabuhay, Lawa, Nueva Villa and Baluntaya) on January 29.
He said the composite team also reported ASF incidence in seven barangays in adjacent town of Malita, which includes Bgy. Bito, Kidalapong, Tubalan, Felis, Mana, Talogoy, and New Argao.
Reyes said the blood samples collected and submitted to the DA-BAI Region 12 animal disease diagnostic laboratory in General Santos City for initial testing on January 30 showed that the affected animals were positive for ASF.
"Laboratory examinations of affected animals revealed similarities of lesions for classical swine fever or hog cholera and ASF," he said.
Reyes said upon receiving reports of ASF incidence in Davao Occidental, Dar immediately issued directives to manage, contain and control the disease, while awaiting confirmation by the DA's Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI) laboratory in Quezon City.
"Secretary Dar orders all concerned DA offices to extend technical assistance to affected hog raisers, ensure food safety at all times, and strictly enforce the 1-7-10 protocol," he said.
"DA-BAI national director Ronnie Domingo also instructed the Davao regional veterinary quarantine officers (VQOs) to extend full assistance in restricting animal movement, following the 1-7-10 protocol in affected barangays," he added.
Under the protocol, the hogs will be prohibited from entering or leaving the one-kilometer radius from the site of infection, while hogs within 7-km radius would be restricted and placed under survaillance. It also requires the farm owners within 10-km radius to report possible swine desease occurences to the DA.
Reyes said Domingo also "instructed other regional VQOs in Mindanao to strictly enforce quarantine procedures and monitor animal movement."
"He also instructed director Domingo to order DA-BAI regional VQOs to conduct a 'trace-back' and 'trace-forward' investigations, particularly in areas where Don Marcelino actively trades with like the towns of Malita, Santa Maria, Jose Abad Santos, all in Davao Occidental and Sulop, in Davao Del Sur," he said.
Dar commended Davao Occidental Governor Claude Bautista, and respective mayors of the two towns for enforcing a complete, but temporary, lock down, and in establishing 24/7 quarantine checkpoints, secured by barangay tanod and uniformed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel.
The disease has reportedly killed around 1,000 hogs within the province of Davao Occidental.
Quoting DA-RFO11 Director Ricardo Onate, Jr., Reyes said another coordination meeting with local officials and VQOs was held Sunday to identify the disposal sites for culled hogs and conduct an inventory of the total swine population in affected areas.
The DA reiterated that ASF is non-transmissible to humans, and that pork is safe to eat.
But it urged all consumers to always look for the seal of the DA's National Meat Inspection Service (DA-NMIS) that ensures all livestock and poultry animals are disease-free before they are slaughtered. Robina Asido/DMS