GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 27 February) – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has beefed up the animal quarantine checkpoints in parts of Soccsksargen to further protect the area from the entry of the dreaded African Swine Fever (ASF).
Dr. John Pascual, chief of DA-Region 12’s regulatory division, said they have installed movable steel foot baths in 25 major quarantine posts in the region’s border areas, especially those situated near the ASF-hit localities in the Davao region.
He specifically cited municipalities that are close to the provinces of Davao Del Sur and Davao Occidental, where outbreaks of the disease had been confirmed.
Aside from the distribution of steel foot baths, which replaced the wooden structures put up by the local government units (LGUs), he said they provided chemicals and additional information materials for the checkpoints.
The official said the intensive disease surveillance activities were ongoing in the region’s border barangays, especially in North Cotabato and Sarangani provinces.
He cited barangays in the municipalities of Glan, Malapatan, Alabel and Malungons town in Sarangani.
Pascual said they were also monitoring parts of Arakan in North Cotabato due to the reported entry in the previous months of hogs from Calinan, Davao City, which was also affected by the ASF outbreak.
He said blood samples were regularly collected from hogs in identified vulnerable areas and subjected to testing at the Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory here.
“We have so far collected and tested more than 1,000 specimens and all of them were negative for ASF,” he said in an interview.
Pascual said most LGUs in the region, including this city, remained under modified lockdown due to the ASF threat.
He said live hogs and pork products coming from localities affected by the ASF outbreak were mainly prohibited from entering the area.
Aside from the checkpoints, Pascual said LGUs in the coastal areas of Sarangani have also launched regular sea patrols to prevent hog traders from using the route.
He said the municipal government of Malapatan in Sarangani reported that its personnel recently intercepted a motorized banca that was transporting hogs.
Citing their monitoring, Pascual said the entire region is still considered free from ASF despite the reported cases in Koronadal City early this month.
The DA central office had confirmed that 11 of 42 hogs purchased by a local trader in late January in Sulop town, Davao del Sur tested positive for ASF.
But Pascual said the disease was considered contained and no new cases were found in the area following the culling of all affected hogs. (MindaNews)