Sarangani wants to declare town as buffer zone in fight vs swine fever

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews) – The provincial government of Sarangani is pushing for the declaration of the municipality of Glan under the pink or buffer zone for the dreaded African Swine Fever (ASF).

Dr. Bernard Cababat, acting head of the Provincial Veterinary Office, said they have started a trial using “sentinel hogs” in several barangays previously affected by the ASF outbreak to determine whether the disease is still present in the area.

He said at least 66 hog raisers and farmers are initially involved in the 40-day testing through hogs provided by the Department of Agriculture (DA) last Nov. 9 under its sentineling program.

Some 34 more hog raisers will take part by next month in the trial program, which covers Barangays Batulaki, Pangyan, Calabanit, Calpidong, and Cablalan in Glan.

DA confirmed the ASF outbreak in these areas starting July last year that resulted in the culling of over 140 hogs and the declaration of the area under the red or infected zone.

Cababat explained that during a 40-day period, blood samples will be taken from the hogs and will be tested for the disease.

“Hopefully then, by God’s grace, the virus will not occur again and Glan will be declared as pink zone,” he said in a statement.

A pink or buffer zone means that the ASF is no longer present but the area adjacent to an infected zone, which in Glan’s case are localities in Davao Occidental.

Cababat said it includes areas previously infected but the ASF virus had not been detected for at least 90 days and considered recovered from an infected status.

Andrew Kristian Baliton, a program representative of DA-12, said the sentineling process involved the monitoring of the trial hogs to determine if infectious diseases, like ASF, or other harmful agents are present in an area.

He said the recipients of the “sentinel hogs” are not allowed to sell or slaughter the animal during the trial.

The hogs will remain with the raisers if the laboratory results will confirm that the disease is no longer present in the area, he said.

“[But] if new cases will again emerge based on the study, the sentinel pigs will be taken from them,” he said.

Aside from the initial 66 hogs, DA-Region 12 distributed 220 bags of feeds and 22 sets of biologics that are all worth around P1.1 million.

Cababat said they expect the delivery of the remaining hogs and other supplies before the end of the month or the first week of December. (MindaNews)