Google map of Don Marcelino town, Davao Occidental.

DAVAO CITY -- The Office of Civil Defense in Region 11 (OCD-11) said it immediately activated Friday the Regional Animal Disease Task Force for Davao Region following confirmation of the African Swine Fever (ASF) case in the Davao Occidental town of Don Marcelino.

OCD-11 Director Liza Mazos said the case--the first in the entire Mindanao--was confirmed by the Department of Agriculture in Region 11 (DA-11), whose officials said they were unable to issue a statement pending a directive from the DA central office.

In a Facebook post on Friday, Don Marcelino Mayor Michael Maruya ordered a "24/7 temporary lockdown" in the selling and buying of pigs following the death of about 1,000 heads of swine in eight barangays, namely Linadasan, North Lamidan, South Lamidan, Calian, Mabuhay, Lawa, Nueva Villa, and Baluntaya.

Maruya said the temporary lockdown was recommended by DA-11 and the Provincial Veterinarian Office as a measure to control the spread of the ASF and to ensure the safety of the consumers on the consumption of pork meat products in Don Marcelino town.

Quarantine, checkpoints

He said the local police, village officials, and other government offices have been tasked to ensure the establishment of a 24/7 animal quarantine checkpoints in various entry points within the municipality.

Town residents have also been asked to cooperate with the measures recommended by authorities, the mayor added.

Meanwhile, Davao Occidental Gov. Claude Bautista also called for an emergency meeting with provincial officials on Saturday and issued a circular to temporarily ban the entry and exit of wild or domesticated pigs in the province.

Checkpoints were quickly activated along the boundaries of Davao Occidental, Davao del Sur, and Sarangani Province, Bautista said.

“In view of the current suspected outbreak of African Swine Fever in the municipality of Don Marcelino, all are directed to impose strict compliance to prohibit entry and exit of live domestic and/or wild pigs in this province, as well as the distribution and sale of pork meat and their processed products provincewide, as part of the precautionary measures to prevent the widespread of this contagious hemorrhagic disease of pigs which may cause threat to the health of the populace,” the governor said.

Bautista ordered a halt on the trading of pork and pork products in the province unless these were certified safe and ASF-free by government veterinarians.

Bautista said he also directed local officials to ensure that "only swine/pigs with valid certification from the municipal veterinarian will be accepted in slaughterhouses as he urged the local community to be vigilant at all times in helping the authorities in enforcing the ban."

He said local officials down to the barangay level must ensure that proper disposal of condemned carcasses and parts will be observed, and immediately report suspected ASF cases to their town officials.

Containment measures

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Mindanao Development Authority Chairman Emmanuel Piñol underscored the importance of containment to prevent "the spread of the disease by immediately implementing quarantine measures."

"I have issued directives calling on the police and military commanders covering the area to join me," Piñol said.

"Just as we have done in Central Luzon, we will be employing policemen and soldiers to make sure nothing comes out of Don Marcelino and its neighboring town Jose Abad Santos," he added.

The MinDA chief also called on hog industry stakeholders to help, adding that the affected town will need "power sprayers, preferably motorized, disinfectants, empty drums, wide galvanized pans for footbaths and tents."

"Foodstuff, including coffee, and cooking utensils for volunteers could also help. We also need suggestions on how to effectively dispose of sick hogs," he added.

"We all have to contribute to contain this problem before it spreads," Piñol said. (PNA)