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UPLB shuts down pig farm due to African swine fever

/ 05:14 AM July 12, 2020

SAN PEDRO CITY, Laguna, Philippines — The outbreak of the African swine fever (ASF) disease in Laguna province has forced the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) to temporarily shut down its swine experimental farm and terminate at least one ongoing research project.

But contrary to information from the provincial veterinary office that about 200 pigs were affected by the ASF, only 94 commercial and native pigs under UPLB’s Institute of Animal Science (IAS) were culled, as a mitigating measure against the virus spread.

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Rommel Sulabo, IAS director, said the pigs were actually “healthy, with no signs typical of ASF,” like fever or loss of appetite, but nevertheless had to be depopulated in early July, amid sporadic reports of infection in backyard farms in surrounding villages in Los Baños town.

Scaled down research

UPLB’s swine unit is closed for disinfection and the farm will stay empty until repopulation is deemed safe, like when a vaccine becomes available, he said.

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In an email correspondence, Sulabo said researches might continue through other partner institutions, although farm experiments were suspended.

The ASF, which spreads quickly from farm to farm wiping out hundreds of thousands of hogs, was first reported in the provinces of Rizal and Bulacan, and Quezon City in 2019.

In Batangas province, early reports of the outbreak were recorded after the Taal Volcano eruption in January and in Calamba City, Laguna, sometime in March.

Anticipating the disease to reach Los Baños in a matter of time, “we were already cutting down on swine research since early this year,” by gradually reducing the number of pigs and increasing biosecurity measures in the facility, Sulabo said.

“We only had one experiment affected by the culling and it had to be terminated,” he added.

The provincial veterinary office has already depopulated around a “thousand” pigs in Laguna, while several other areas remain under monitoring for ASF.

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TAGS: African Swine Flu, ASF, UPLB pig farm
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