LEGAZPI CITY, Mar 4 (PIA) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) Bicol further strengthened border control and biosecurity measures in the province of Albay to prevent and control the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF).
"Even before the first case of ASF was reported in the Bicol region, the DA has intensified our surveillance and monitoring all over the province," National Meat Inspection Service Region 5 OIC Dr Alex Templonuevo said at the Bantay ASF episode of the Talakayan sa PIA Albay radio program.
Templonuevo cited the continuous enforcement of the Task Force Bantay Karne in partnership with the local government units (LGUs) and other government agencies such as the Philippine National Police and the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to prohibit the entry of undocumented meat especially in bus stations.
"As part of our protocol on strategy and eradication, depopulation in infected areas was lowered from one kilometer to 500 meters from the index case. There is no excuse even for those that are apparently normal. By principle, they are in the incubation period and will eventually be infected," he said.
Local border security
Templonuevo further calls on the LGUs for stricter checkpoints and border control.
"Aside from regional level, there are local checkpoints as well. But one reason of the increase in cases is the loosened border control. I'd like to emphasize that border control is vested in local government," he said.
He further calls for support from the barangay tanods and the police, along with the local agriculture office for monitoring and inspection to efficiently enforce border security.
"Receiving is very critical. Aside from the documents, the pig must be physically inspected as well. I also advised the slaughterhouses to have a receiving area, at least 100 kilometers away to prevent entry of infection," Templonuevo said.
For Albay, Veterinary Quarantine Officer Dr. Rica Mesolania said there have been apprehensions from the checkpoints conducted at the entry points in the province, particularly at the Legazpi Airport and ports of Legazpi, Pioduran and Tabaco.
"Our office ensures strict compliance with the guidelines and requirements on local transport and shipment of animals, along with the shippers and agents. We also enforce the National Zoning and Movement Plan to control the spread of ASF," she said.
Swill feeding and Biosecurity
Templonuevo strongly cautioned the hog owners from feeding swills or "sagmaw" as the ASF virus may survive even in cooked and processed food.
The first ASF case in Albay was traced to swill feeding said Albay Veterinary Office Chief Dr. Pancho Mella.
"The first case in Albay was recorded on Sept. 22, 2020 in Caratagan, Pioduran which led to the depopulation of at least 112 hogs. The source of infection was swill feeding in an organic farm. A week after, it spread to Polangui, Ligao and eventually in other areas in the province," Mella said
"What's the risk of feeding swills or sagmaw? The ASF virus can survive for over 140 days in some pork products. If it is still present in swills or left-over food, our pigs will eventually be infected," he added.
Mella also cautions against pig shippers and agents who might be coming from infected zones as carriers of the ASF virus.
"This disease is highly lethal in pigs but it does not affect humans. However, humans can be carriers and can transmit this disease," he said.
Mella further urged hog raisers to ensure cleanliness and proper sanitation to prevent infection.
A total of 1,126 depopulated swines from 255 hog raisers in the province with investigation still ongoing for possible infections in other barangays.
The cities of Tabaco and Ligao and the municipalities of Malinao, Bacacay, Polangui, Oas, Ligao, Pioduran and Daraga are declared as infected zones. (PIA5/Albay)