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Local execs key in stopping spread of hog disease – DA

11 towns in Isabela on lockdown as more cases of African swine fever surface

HEALTHY PIGS Hogs kept in pens at the Legazpi City slaughterhouse in Albay province are fed and cleaned as the Department of Agriculture ensures that protocols and measures to contain the spread of African swine fever are followed by local governments. —MARK ALVIC ESPLANA

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has appealed to local officials and hog raisers to cooperate with the government and implement measures in stopping the spread of the African swine fever (ASF) that has wreaked havoc on the country’s livestock industry.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said people on the ground—governors, mayors and village chiefs, including hog raisers and government veterinarians—were crucial in containing the virus.

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“In terms of monitoring, hog raisers are the first responders if their pigs get sick. Being first responders, they have now to report [cases] to veterinarians of the city or of the province,” said Dar, who was guest during the 111th founding anniversary of the University of the Philippines Los Baños College of Agriculture and Food Science here on Tuesday.

Dar warned them that they would be penalized, under the Food Safety Act, should they fail to do their jobs.

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Quarantine measures

Sick pigs, he said, should not be sold to hog traders who have been taking advantage of the low prices of live pigs.

“We have an elevated response in terms of strengthening the quarantine measures from day one,” Dar said.

He said the DA had been working with the private sector, hog raisers and representatives of meat processors and importers in addressing the ASF outbreak, which was first detected in Rizal province and was initially confined in a few provinces in Luzon last year before cases were reported in Mindanao this year.

ASF, while lethal to pigs, cannot be transmitted to humans.

“Stricter penalties will be there for those who will not cooperate, much more for hog raisers who are hiding their sick pigs, for hog traders who are still selling infected meat or pork, for barangay leaders who are not doing their job, and veterinarians who are issuing fake documents,” Dar said.

The first case of ASF in the Bicol region was confirmed in the town of Bombon in Camarines Sur province last month.

More cases in Isabela

In Cagayan Valley region, 11 towns in Isabela were put on lockdown as more cases of ASF surfaced in the province.

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Angelo Naui, provincial veterinarian, said at least 1,000 hogs in 22 villages had been culled in the province since last month.

The latest ASF outbreak was recorded at Barangay Santiago in Reina Mercedes town and Barangay Pangal Sur in Echague town.

Gov. Rodolfo Albano III had issued an executive order on Feb. 24 placing the towns of Quezon, Quirino, Mallig, Jones, Aurora, Roxas, San Manuel, Gamu and Cordon on lockdown to contain the virus.

State of calamity

Gamu was declared under a state of calamity on Feb. 25 after tests on random samples from hogs raised in backyard farms tested positive for the virus.

Naui said the outbreak led local health officials to order the ban on the slaughter of pigs outside the towns’ abattoirs to stop meat contamination through “uraga,” or the practice of giving meat to neighbors in exchange for farm products.

“We are continuously monitoring the affected villages as agriculture technicians remain vigilant on reporting sick pigs,” Naui said, noting that backyard piggeries in villages where ASF cases were reported had already been disinfected.

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TAGS: African swine fever, ASF, Department of Agriculture, LGUs, William Dar
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