Bulacan cleared of ASF but stays as ‘buffer zone’
CITY OF MALOLOS — The province of Bulacan has been declared free of the contagious African swine fever (ASF) as the provincial government received P6 million worth of bio disinfectants and cash donations from a socio-civic group in Taiwan, officials said on Friday.
Voltaire Basinang, Bulacan provincial veterinary officer, said the province had been placed in the “pink” category, or buffer zone, after the Department of Agriculture regional office confirmed that there had been no cases of ASF recorded this month.
But Bulacan has yet to be placed in the “green” category (ASF-free zone) since it is still surrounded by infected areas, Basinang said, noting that some localities in nearby provinces remained under the “red” (ASF-infected) and “yellow” (recovered) categories.
Prior to the ASF-free declaration, the province was tagged as a red zone, with about 5,000 backyard and commercial hog raisers affected by the classification, Basinang said.
ASF is a highly contagious viral disease affecting pigs. Symptoms include high fever, weakness or lethargy, loss of appetite, rashes or hives, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Bulacan was also hit by ASF outbreaks in 2017 and 2019, affecting 17 hog-producing municipalities and cities, according to Gov. Daniel Fernando.
On Thursday, Fernando led local officials in receiving gallons of bio disinfectants from the Rotary Club of Changwa Central under the Rotary International District 3462 in Taiwan to help the province maintain its ASF-free status.
“The donations will be a big help for our hog raisers as they start anew after being hit by ASF. These bio disinfectants will serve as advance protection for their farms,” Fernando said during a ceremony in this city.
In Ilocos Sur province, the city government of Vigan has banned the entry of swine, pork and pork-related products as part of tighter measures to prevent the spread of swine fever in the city.
In an executive order on Thursday, Vigan Mayor Jose Singson Jr. said there was a need to “elevate surveillance” and impose stricter measures to avoid “serious economic and production losses.”
The temporary ban covered live pigs and pork products coming from areas in the second district of Ilocos Sur, except for the towns of Santa and Narvacan, the mayor said.
Singson had also ordered the city’s slaughterhouse master to ensure that all swine entering the city abattoir had veterinary certificates or livestock inspection certificates.
Village officials were mandated to assist local governments in hog inventory, monitoring and biosecurity surveillance, while the public was urged to report “suspicious incidents of swine mortality.”
In Ilocos Norte, the provincial veterinary office earlier asked hog raisers, traders and meat vendors to strictly follow biosecurity protocols to prevent the reemergence of swine fever in the province, which wiped out at least P50 million worth of hog stocks during an outbreak in 2021.