Online selling blamed for ASF contamination in Cotabato town
KIDAPAWAN CITY—The Cotabato provincial veterinarian has blamed online selling, particularly of processed meat chorizos, for the first cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) detected in hogs in Magpet town, Cotabato province.
Dr. Rufino Suropia, Cotabato provincial veterinarian, said the contamination could have been brought here through the orders of processed meat sent through couriers at the height of the lockdown.
He said online selling had been the normal recourse of residents in Magpet when the entire country was placed on enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in April and May.
Online sellers from the Davao region were sending their products through couriers which passed through the COVID-19 quarantine personnel undetected, Suropia said.
Blood samples taken from pigs in at least four remote villages of Magpet town have been found positive for ASF infection, according to Arlan M. Mangelen, regional director of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Soccsksargen region, on Monday (July 13).
Mangelen said ASF, a highly contagious hemorrhagic viral disease among domestic and wild pigs, had been detected at the villages of Ilian, Kiantog, Tagbac and Magca-alam of Magpet town.
“We are investigating these cases, we learned that processed food (chorizo) made its way to one of the villages,” Mangelen said.
Several hogs have died mysteriously the past two days forcing its owners to consult the municipal agriculture office.
Domestic hog raisers at the villages of Tagbac and Pangao-an also reported deaths of their domestic animals.
To prevent the disease from spreading and affecting hogs in nearby villages, culling of live pigs within a one-kilometer radius from the site of infection already started on Friday (July 10) and will continue this week, he said.
The culled hogs will be paid by the government, according to the prevailing market price of live meat.
Agriculture officials said ASF cases at Magpet villages were the first cases reported in Cotabato.
It came after the first ASF case in Mindanao was reported in Don Marcelino town of Davao Occidental, about 185 kilometers (or a four-hour drive) from here.
The provincial government had ordered the veterinary office to set up checkpoints in a 1-km radius of villages with ASF cases.
Cotabato Gov. Nancy Catamco also ordered the local government of Magpet to bar the transport or delivery of live pigs and processed meat in a 5-km radius from areas with ASF cases.
Sorupia said officials would enforce a lockdown in the town of Magpet to stop the entry and exit of pigs and meat products from the area.
“We will compel delivery trucks to open their vehicle for inspection to stop the entry of contaminated meat products,” he said.
Sorupia said the provincial veterinary office also took pigs’ blood samples to determine the extent of ASF infection.
He said of the 228,000 hog population in the province, 182,000 head, or 80 percent, were from backyard farms and only 45,000 or 20 percent were from commercial farms.
Mlang town Mayor Russel Abonado ordered the municipal agriculture office to look into reports of meat stands filling stretches of the national highway.
He sought to assure the public, though, that all meat sold at the town’s public market were butchered at the town’s slaughterhouse, which has a double A rating and accredited by the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS).
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