Dar: Swine fever rash ‘contained’
MANILA, Philippines — The outbreak of African swine fever in Rizal and Bulacan has been “contained and controlled” but strict surveillance continues in the two provinces, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said on Monday.
In a statement, Dar appealed to the press and the public not to “ignite fears” of African swine fever as unverified reports could cause irreversible damage to the country’s swine industry.
The Philippine swine industry is valued at P260 billion a year, with backyard hog raisers contributing about two-thirds.
‘Not an epidemic’
Dar said the African swine fever incidence in Bulacan and Rizal “may be considered an outbreak, but not an epidemic.”
He said the outbreak had been contained at Barangay Pritil in Guiguinto, Bulacan, and in several villages in Rodriguez, San Mateo, and Antipolo in Rizal.
In Guiguinto, local veterinarians have started distributing disinfectants to backyard hog raisers to help contain the disease, Mayor Ambrosio Cruz said on Monday.
Cruz said local health officials had placed stockyards under strict quarantine procedures since the outbreak of African swine fever in August.
In his statement, Dar said African swine fever cases had not been observed nationwide.
He reported that more than 7,400 pigs had been culled in the infected areas in Rizal and Bulacan as part of the efforts of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to contain the disease.
Dar said the outbreak would not affect the supply and prices of pork, stressing that the disease was confined to specific areas and had not spread across the country.
Malacañang said it was safe to eat pork.
“The DA said it is, and so it is,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Monday when asked by reporters if pork in Metro Manila was safe to eat after the Quezon City local government reported that 11 dead pigs found in Barangay Bagong Silangan had tested positive for African swine fever.
The agriculture department disputed that report, stressing that testing of animals for the disease could not be done quickly.
Panelo said Quezon City should have consulted with the agriculture department first before reporting the matter.
Worries about the fitness of pork for human consumption in Metro Manila began to rise last week after 56 dead pigs were found floating on the Marikina River.
The Marikina local government buried the pigs and swore to bring charges against the people who had dumped the carcasses on the river.
On Monday, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Rizal deployed an inspection team to Rodriguez town, where the headwaters of the Marikina River is found, to try to discover the origin of the carcasses.
Earlier, the Bureau of Animal Industry confirmed the affliction of pigs in at least five villages in Rizal with African swine fever.
In Nueva Vizcaya province, the carcasses of 13 piglets were found at the back of the provincial agricultural terminal on Friday.
Roberto Busania, DA regional technical director for operations and extension in Cagayan Valley, said the piglets had died in the womb of a butchered sow and were dumped at the back of the terminal, which he described as “negligent,” having caused worries among residents.
Busania dismissed reports that hogs in the region were infected with African swine fever.
—With reports from Julie M. Aurelio, Maricar Cinco, Carmela Reyes-Estrope and Villamor Visaya Jr.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.