August 20, 2019
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has set up a crisis management team tasked with enhancing biosecurity measures as it monitors suspected animal-disease outbreaks in the country following reports of more backyard pigs dying in some areas.
In a briefing in Quezon City on Monday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the department’s Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) received an August 16 report on the growing death rate of pigs raised by farmers in their backyards.
He refused, however, to identify the areas affected to prevent creating a “false alarm” as the BAI waits for “solid, valid results.”
“We will not mention where, because the containment and control of the suspected animal disease is underway, and we don’t want people to go to those areas,” he said.
The briefing comes after Taiwan’s Central Emergency Operation Center reported on Sunday that cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) — which only affects pigs and whose mortality rate could go as high as nearly 100 percent — “have been detected in Bulacan and Rizal [provinces]…even though the authorities have not reported [them] to the World Organization for Animal Health.”
It also announced that all carry-on bags from the Philippines will be examined by X-ray machines in all of its entry points as a precaution against ASF.
Taiwanese authorities already added the Philippines to the list of countries — China, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, North and South Korea, and Russia — tagged as having high risk for ASF.
Dar said the report received by the BAI prompted his department to establish the team “to to oversee the planning and implementation of appropriate measures to manage, contain and control all the suspected animal disease or diseases.”
“We also ordered the [team] to work closely with key industry players and local government officials to manage the incident and carry out ground-level operations immediately.
“We will institutionalize the active participation of the private sector and the local government units and they will be part of the [team] from hereon to gain their full involvement and commitment, including other technical teams that will monitor and evaluate same events.”
Dar said the BAI further bolstered its monitoring and vigilance, including imposing stricter quarantine measures in the country’s ports of entry.
Blood samples from the affected hogs have been sent abroad for testing for several animal diseases, including ASF.
While the tests would take from two weeks to three months to complete, Dar said the affected areas have been isolated and quarantined.
According to him, these areas have been directed to follow the 1-7-10 protocol to prevent any disease from spreading beyond the quarantined areas. All hogs that fall within a 1-kilometer radius from the affected area will be culled. Those within a 7-km radius from that area will be under surveillance, and those within a 10-km radius are tagged for food security.
“We identify the sites, we excavate [and] we bury [the pigs]. Then after that, we disinfect. Even their burying grounds, we disinfect,” Dar said.
For its part, local hog players said there is enough pork supply for national consumption, thus there is no reason for market prices to increase.
“Our supply is enough,” said Rosendo So, president of Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura.
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