African Swine Flu (ASF) Detected in Mindanao

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Image Credits: Suljo | Dreamstime.com, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3764739
Image Credits: Suljo | Dreamstime.com, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3764739

The provincial government of Davao Occidental in Southern Philippines has ordered a mandatory “complete lock-down” that prohibits the transportation of pigs and pork goods into and outside the region. The government has declared the mandates following the advice of the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Sunday, February 2, after the department found out that the blood samples taken from the pigs tested positive from the African Swine Flu (ASF) virus. Though, the mandate is temporary.

According to the Philippines government’s news agency:

“In a Facebook post on Friday, Don Marcelino Mayor Michael Maruya ordered a “24/7 temporary lock-down” in the selling and buying of pigs following the death of about 1,000 heads of swine in eight barangays, namely Linadasan, North Lamidan, South Lamidan, Calian, Mabuhay, Lawa, Nueva Villa, and Baluntaya.”

As the 10th largest pork consumer of the world, the Philippines is also the world’s 7th biggest pork importer. The country’s first ASF fever outbreak was reported in September last year, 2019, in Luzon, in a province near Metro Manila. According to experts, the ASF does not pose health threats to humans but however, this virus is so deadly to pigs and has no vaccine available yet. The last year’s ASF outbreak caused the country’s agriculture output to decline.

The DA also asked the region’s hog raisers and traders for sincere cooperation following a meeting with 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”.

According to the Department of Agriculture:

“Backyard pig farmers in the area practice group rearing of hogs, from different owners, most (of them without) proper housing provisions nor bio-security practices. There was also no regular vaccination, vitamin supplementation, and deworming of pigs in the province, and household butchering is common, especially with animals exhibiting weakness or disease.”

This is the first reported case of ASF infection in the region and in Mindanao. According also to the government report, some affected areas of the region have culled around a thousand pigs amidst the outbreak. The DA also claimed that the pork smuggled from China, where “millions of pigs have been culled”, could be the source of the virus. Agriculture Secretary William Dar has “ordered regional department officials to restrict animal movement in that part of the archipelago”.

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