Soccsksargen intensifies monitoring against ASF

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 2 February) — With the African swine fever (ASF) so far killing at least 1,000 pigs in Don Marcelino, Davao Occidental in Region 11, a livestock expert in Soccsksargen urged Sunday the public to help in preventing the spread of the disease in the area through close monitoring.

Pork on display in a mall in Iligan City. MindaNews photo taken on Feb. 2, 2020 by BOBBY TIMONERA

Dr. Rene Molina, National Meat Inspection Service-Region 12 (NMIS-12) meat control officer, stressed the need to intensify the monitoring of piggeries and backyard hog farms to determine if ASF has spread to Soccsksargen.

“We also need to strengthen quarantine measures to prevent the entry of ASF to our region,” he said.

Molina said their office has not yet received a communication from the national office or the laboratory results confirming it was indeed a case of ASF, but noted that measures to prevent the spread of the disease have already been put in place in the region.

He said they only learned from media reports on Saturday that 1,000 pigs have died in Don Marcelino town.

Molina added they will discuss the reported new ASF cases with other concerned agencies once office resumes Monday.

Don Marcelino Mayor Michael Maruya earlier said the ASF caused the deaths of the pigs, and that a lockdown has been in place in his locality to prevent the spread of the disease.

He added that eight villages in his town have so far been affected by the ASF outbreak.

ASF is a highly contagious hemorrhagic disease in pigs and characterized by high fever, loss of appetite, hemorrhages in the skin and internal organs, and death in two to 10 days on average after infection, according to the World Organization for Animal Health.

It noted that ASF does not cause disease in humans.

Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said the Department of Agriculture 11 has confirmed the ASF outbreak in Don Marcelino town.

In a statement Saturday, Pinol said that police officers and soldiers would be utilized “to make sure nothing comes out of Don Marcelino and its neighboring town of Jose Abad Santos.”

When he was still Agriculture secretary, Pinol said he also employed the help of the police and the military to contain the spread of ASF in Central Luzon.

“What needs to be done now is to contain the spread of the disease by immediately implementing quarantine measures,” said Pinol, who was slated to proceed to Don Marcelino town Sunday to assess the situation.

NMIS-12’s Molina said the local government units in Soccsksargen have set up checkpoints against the ASF after the outbreak in Central Luzon last year.

Soccsksargen or Region 12 straddles the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong and Kidapawan.

In August 2019, airport and quarantine workers in General Santos City, the gateway to Soccsksargen, burned 260 kilograms of intercepted assorted meat products as part of efforts to prevent the spread of ASF in the area.

Esteban Co. Jr., an officer of the South Cotabato Swine Producers Association (Socospa), earlier said their members have been closely monitoring and implementing stringent measures against ASF in their piggeries.

“I assure the public that the meat we produced and sold in the markets are very safe for consumption,” he said.

Socospa comprises over 20 piggery owners in General Santos and neighboring localities.

The group’s members have been shipping live pigs to markets in Metro Manila and the Visayas, Co said. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)