DA orders culling of hogs amid report of ‘increased mortality of pigs’
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has ordered the culling of hogs in an unidentified area to contain what could be the entry of the African swine fever (ASF) virus in the country.
In a press conference on Monday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar neither confirmed nor denied reports that the ASF virus has infected hogs being raised in Rizal, but noted that the agency received an incident report on Friday (August 16) “on an increased mortality of pigs raised by farmers in their backyards.”
An industry source told the Inquirer that the infected area was Barangay San Isidro in Rizal, wherein agency officials have already commenced quarantine and security practices.
According to the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) veterinarian Dr. Joy Lagayan – who is also a member of the ASF task force – the usual mortality rate for pigs is between 3 to 5 percent. In this case, however, the mortality rate in the area has spiked to as much as 20 percent.
Dar said he has already directed BAI to conduct further confirmatory laboratory tests, including sending blood samples to foreign laboratories to ascertain the cause of the animals’ deaths.
The test results are expected in two to three weeks, although Dar said some confirmatory tests could take as much as three months.
Following this development, BAI has already put the area under a “quarantine zone,” which means the automatic depopulation of all hogs within 1 kilometer from the virus’ ground zero and the further surveillance of areas within 10 kilometers.
Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan said the agency will be strictly monitoring the entry and exit of agricultural commodities in the area, while disinfection of the quarantine zone is currently underway.
Dar, however, assured consumers that the incident would not affect the supply and prices of pork in the market, and stressed that the ASF virus does not pose any health concerns to humans.
Nonetheless, the epidemic has no cure yet and given the government’s lack of resources to address the problem and ensure its contamination, its entry in the country may destroy the P200-billion local livestock industry at a time when the latter has just secured trade agreements to supply pork to China and Singapore.
“We have further upgraded our monitoring and vigilance, including the imposition of stricter quarantine measures all over the country’s ports of entry, airports, and seaports,” Dar said.
“In all, we will strictly and vigorously implement all existing laws, rules, and regulations in protecting the country’s animal industry,” he added.
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