DA, BAI confirm ASF outbreak; call on public to help prevent spread of pig disease

Marje Pelayo   •   September 16, 2019   •   230

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) in a press release admitted that the current African Swine Fever (ASF) episodes in Rizal and Bulacan may be considered an outbreak but not yet an epidemic.

The Department assured, however, that the pig virus has already been contained in Barangay Pritil and Guiguinto in Bulacan as well as in several barangays in Rodriguez, San Mateo, and Antipolo in Rizal.

The agency, through Secretary William Dar, stressed that the outbreak is not affecting the entire country thus it appeals to the public as well as the media not to ignite fear as unverified and unvalidated reports could create irreversible damage to the country’s hog industry which is also the source of livelihood for millions of Filipinos.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) confirmed that the cases of pig deaths in Rizal and Bulacan have been at outbreak level since August this year.

“Basta na-confirm na ito’y tumaas doon sa normally expected na nagkakasakit at normal na bilang ng namamatay, outbreak na iyon. August po iyon,” Director Ronnie Domingo said in an interview on Monday (September 16) when asked as to when the outbreak started.

(If the confirmed number of pig deaths goes beyond the normal number of expected deaths, that’s outbreak already. That was the case in August.)

The agency, meanwhile, doesn’t want to confirm what the Quezon City government announced regarding ASF-positive pigs amid culling operations in the city.

According to Domingo, they are still conducting laboratory tests on the pig samples including those that floated in a creek in Bagong Silangan as well as those recovered in Marikina River.

The official echoed Secretary Dar’s call on hog raisers to report pigs that had gone sick in order to prevent the spread of the deadly swine virus.

“Sana makalaya tayo kaagad in the shortest possible time (We hope to end this (problem) in the shortest possible time),” Domingo said.

“Pero pagka may nagtatago at ganyan na hindi nakikisama, mae-extend ang control measures na ginagawa (natin) (But if there are some who conceal [their hogs], we need to extend our control measures),” he added. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

DepEd urged to heighten measures vs consumption of ASF-tainted products in schools

Robie de Guzman   •   November 8, 2019

 Filipino children are seen in front of a school in Manila, Philippines, 08 October 2019 (issued 11 October 2019). EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – A senator has urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to heighten precautionary measures to prevent students from consuming pork products tainted with African Swine Fever (ASF) in schools.

In a statement, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said DepEd should exercise vigilance following reports that processed pork meats from China tested positive for ASF, as well as some skinless longganisa and hotdog products from local manufacturer, Mekeni.

“Sa mga feeding program na isinasagawa ng DepEd, halimbawa, dapat siguruhin ng ating mga guro na gumagamit sila ng mga malinis at mapagkakatiwalaang mga produktong ipakakain sa mga bata,” he said in a statement.

While ASF does not pose a threat to human health, the senator said schools should raise awareness and exhaust all sanitary measures to protect students from ASF-contaminated products.

Gatchalian also cited an advisory from the Department of Health which identified uncooked and undercooked contaminated pork as a source of ASF’s spread in swine herds.

Health authorities said the swine disease is introduced into a herd when contaminated raw pork is ingested by a pig. The virus spreads when contaminated pigs get into direct contact with other pigs.

Food waste, feed, and garbage can also cause ASF when ingested by pigs.

“Etong mga hakbang na maaari nating gawin, nagsisimula ito sa responsableng pamimili at lubos na pagluluto ng karne sa mga paaralan. Ito ay upang maiwasan natin ang pagkakasakit ng mga mag-aaral pati na rin ang pagkalat pa ng ASF,” he said.

The Department of Agriculture earlier said that the illegal importation of pork products from China was responsible for the spread of the ASF virus in the country.

Gatchalian also urged DepEd to involve parents in efforts to raise awareness on sanitary practices and preventive measures.

“While schools play an important role to protect our students’ health, it is important that we also extend our efforts at the household level. Kahit gawin ng mga paaralan ang lahat ng pwedeng gawin kung hindi naman nababantayan sa mga bahay nila, malalagay pa rin sa panganib ang ating mga estudyante,” he said.

ASF disinfection facility in Batangas removed for causing traffic jam

Marje Pelayo   •   November 8, 2019

BATANGAS, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has put up its first automated road disinfection facility in South Luzon Expressway extension-STAR Tollway bio-security and quarantine checkpoint in Santo Tomas, Batangas early November.

The facility, which was inaugurated by Secretary William Dar himself, was established to avert the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) and to prevent the entry of other animal diseases into the province of Batangas.

But after only a week, the management of STAR Tollway decided to remove it arguing that the facility was causing heavy traffic in the area.

The toll management did not issue any official statement on the matter.

But according to Engineer Arnel de Mesa, the DA’s Regional Director for Calabarzon, they are actually looking for a larger area where they can place the facility without disrupting traffic.

“Ang alam ko lang doon sa Sto. Tomas kasi may arrangement doon sa STAR Tollway na hahanapan [ng lugar],” De Mesa said.

“Kasi noong nailagay doon, naka experience ng matinding traffic so i-mo-move doon sa area na hindi magko-cause ng matinding trapik,” he added.

Without the facility, quarantine personnel do not have any choice but to do manual disinfection of all vehicles bound for Batangas.

“This is one way of preventing the spread of any disease lalo na yung mga gulong kaya dun sa mga farm meron silang tinatawag na foot bath tsaka tire bath,” De Mesa explained.

“Karamihan kasi ng mga sakit nandiyan sa mga sapatos, nandiyan sa mga gulong, nasa mga sasakyan,” he added.

The DA is planning to install 12 automated road disinfection facilities in strategic locations across the region where most ASF infections were recorded.

“Para patuloy po ang ating bio security control measures, hindi lang para sa ASF kundi sa major economic diseases na mga alagang hayop sa Calabarzon,” he said.

Batangas, Laguna and Quezon remain ASF-free, De Mesa assured. – MNP (with reports from Sherwin Culubong)

President approves use of remaining contingency fund to aid hog raisers affected by ASF

Maris Federez   •   November 7, 2019

Pigs in a backyard piggery are seen before culling after symptoms of African Swine Fever (ASF) were detected in the Pasong Tamo village of Quezon City, Philippines, 03 October 2019. According to local media reports, three other areas of Quezon City have registered cases of ASF, as the Philippines Department of Agriculture urged pig traders not to transport pigs from affected areas to prevent the virus from spreading any further. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the use of the remaining of the contingency fund of his office to extend assistance to the hog raisers who were affected by African Swine Fever (ASF).

This is one of the concerns brought up in the 43rd cabinet meeting with the President.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said such a measure is necessary given the current state of the hog industry.

“It is necessary because we need funds to help in the—in the drive. We need to help the hog raisers,” Panelo said.

Reports said that the hog industry had already lost billions of pesos and that around 70,000 pigs have now been put to death due to ASF infection since August.

According to Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar, the said contingency fund amounts to P1-Billion.  (from the report of Rosalie Coz) /mbmf 

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