Upon receiving reports of African Swine Fever (ASF) incidence in Davao Occidental, Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar immediately issued directives to manage, contain and control the disease while awaiting confirmation by the DA’s Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) in Quezon City.
Dar also called for strong cooperation among hog raisers and traders to stop transport and sale of live hogs, and pork products from suspected ASF areas.
DA Regional Field Office 11 Director Ricardo M. Onate, Jr. immediately convened an emergency meeting attended by the Davao Occidental provincial veterinarian, municipal agriculture officers of Don Marcelino and Malita, military and police officials, local environment and risk reduction officers, and DA-BAI veterinary quarantine service on January 30.
DA-BAI national director Ronnie Domingo, on the other hand, instructed the Davao regional veterinary quarantine officers (VQOs) to extend full assistance in restricting animal movement, following the 1-7-10 protocol in affected barangays.
Domingo also directed other regional VQOs in Mindanao to strictly enforce quarantine procedures and monitor animal movement.
Dar lauded Davao Occidental Governor Claude Bautista, and mayors of Don Marcelino and Malita towns for enforcing a temporary lockdown and in establishing 24/7 quarantine checkpoints manned by barangay tanods (village police officers) and uniformed Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police personnel.
He instructed Domingo to order DA-BAI regional VQOs to conduct investigations, particularly in areas where Don Marcelino actively trades with the towns of Malita, Santa Maria, Jose Abad Santos, all in Davao Occidental, and Sulop, Davao Del Sur.
Onate said another coordination meeting with local officials and VQOs will be held to identify the disposal sites for culled hogs and conduct an inventory of the total swine population in affected areas.
The DA-RFO11 quick response team, together with Davao Occidental provincial veterinary office and municipal agriculture office of Don
Marcelino conducted an investigation on January 29, in eight affected barangays (Linadasan, North Lamidian, South Lamidian, Calian, Mabuhay, Lawa, Nueva Villa and Baluntaya).
The composite team also reported ASF incidence in seven barangays in Bito, Kidalapong, Tubalan, Felis, Mana, Talogoy, and New Argao in Malita.
Laboratory examinations of affected animals revealed similarities of lesions for classical swine fever or hog cholera and ASF.
Backyard farmers in the area practice group rearing (pagalam system) of hogs, from different owners, most having no proper housing provisions nor biosecurity practices.
They do not also practice vaccination, vitamin supplementation and deworming. Household butchering is common especially with animals exhibiting weakness or disease, and animals are sold to neighbors and relatives.
The means of trading animals is by viajeros (bukag-bukag) who purchase sick animals at low cost and transport them by motorcycle to consolidators in the nearby town of Santa Maria for distribution to several areas in Davao Del Sur.
Blood samples were collected and submitted to the DA-BAI Region 12 animal disease diagnostic laboratory in General Santos City on January
Results showed samples were positive for ASF and were immediately submitted to the DA-BAI for confirmation.
Dar ordered all concerned DA offices to extend technical assistance to affected hog raisers, ensure food safety at all times, and strictly enforce the 1-7-10 protocol.
He also reiterated that ASF is non-transmissible to humans, and that pork is safe to eat.
The DA chief urged consumers to always look for products with the DA’s National Meat Inspection Service’s seal (DA-NMIS) to ensure all livestock and poultry animals are disease-free.