Upon receiving reports of African Swine Fever (ASF) incidence in Davao Occidental, Agriculture Secretary William Dar immediately issued directives to manage, contain and control the disease and stop it from spreading, while awaiting confirmation by the DA's Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI) laboratory in Quezon City.
For his part, DA Regional Field Office 11 (DA-RFO11) Director Ricardo M. Onate, Jr. immediately convened an emergency meeting, on January 30, attended by the Davao Occidental provincial veterinarian, municipal agriculture officers of Don Marcelino and Malita, and officers of the PNP, AFP, PENRO, MENRO, PHO, PDRRMO, MDRRMO of Don Marcelino, and DA-BAI veterinary quarantine service.
DA-BAI national director Ronnie Domingo also instructed the Davao regional veterinary quarantine officers (VQOs) to extend full assistance in restricting animal movement, following the 1-7-10 protocol in affected barangays.
Likewise, Domingo instructed other regional VQOs in Mindanao to strictly enforce quarantine procedures and monitor animal movement.
Secretary Dar commended Davao Occidental Governor Claude Bautista, and respective mayors of the two towns for enforcing a complete, but temporary, lock down, and in establishing 24/7 quarantine checkpoints, secured by barangay tanod and uniformed AFP and PNP personnel.
He also instructed director Domingo to order DA-BAI regional VQOs to conduct a "trace-back" and "trace-forward" investigations, particularly in areas where Don Marcelino actively trades with like the towns of Malita, Santa Maria, Jose Abad Santos, all in Davao Occidental and Sulop, in Davao Del Sur.
Director Onate said another coordination meeting with local officials and VQOs will be held today to identify the disposal sites for culled hogs and conduct an inventory of the total swine population in affected areas.
Secretary Dar calls for strong cooperation among hog raisers and traders to stop transport and sale of live hogs, and pork products from suspected areas.
The DA-RFO11 quick response team, together with Davao Occidental provincial veterinary office and municipal agriculture office of Don Marcelino conducted an investigation on January 29, in eight affected barangays (Linadasan, North Lamidian, South Lamidian, Calian, Mabuhay, Lawa, Nueva Villa and Baluntaya).
The composite team also reported ASF incidence in seven barangays in adjacent town of Malita (Bgy Bito, Kidalapong, Tubalan, Felis, Mana, Talogoy, and New Argao).
Laboratory examinations of affected animals revealed similarities of lesions for classical swine fever or hog cholera and ASF.
Backyard farmers in the area practice group rearing (Pagalam system) of hogs, from different owners, most having no proper housing provisions nor biosecurity practices.
They do not also practice vaccination, vitamin supplementation and deworming. Household butchering is common especially with animals exhibiting weakness or disease, and animals are sold to neighbors and relatives.
The means of trading animals is by viajeros (bukag-bukag) who purchase sick animals at low cost and transport them by motorcycle to consolidators in the nearby town of Santa Maria for distribution to several areas in Davao Del Sur.
Blood samples were collected and submitted to the DA-BAI Region 12 animal disease diagnostic laboratory in General Santos City on January 30.
Results showed samples were positive for ASF and were immediately submitted to the DA-BAI for confirmation.
Secretary Dar orders all concerned DA offices to extend technical assistance to affected hog raisers, ensure food safety at all times, and strictly enforce the 1-7-10 protocol.
He also reiterates that ASF is non-transmissible to humans, and that pork is safe to eat.
Finally, he urges all consumers to always look for the seal of the DA's National Meat Inspection Service (DA-NMIS) that ensures all livestock and poultry animals are disease-free before they are slaughtered.