DA monitors farms in SoCot, other areas for possible ASF cases

By Allen Estabillo

February 5, 2020, 2:14 pm

<p>Dr. John Pascual, Department of Agriculture 12 (Soccsksargen) technical director for operations. <em>(Photo grab from the Agri Tayo Soccsksargen Facebook page)</em></p>

Dr. John Pascual, Department of Agriculture 12 (Soccsksargen) technical director for operations. (Photo grab from the Agri Tayo Soccsksargen Facebook page)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) 12 (Soccsksargen) has stepped up monitoring on hog farms in South Cotabato province due to the suspected entry of the African swine fever (ASF).

Dr. John Pascual, DA-12 technical director for operations, said Wednesday surveillance teams have been dispatched to collect samples from animals in the area to determine possible infections.

Pascual said agriculture and veterinary personnel in South Cotabato reported in a meeting on Tuesday suspected cases of ASF in Koronadal City.

At least 40 hogs from Sulop town, Davao del Sur were culled in Koronadal City on Tuesday due to possible ASF contamination.

A local businessman reportedly purchased the animals last December from traders in Sulop, which is adjacent to the ASF-hit towns of Malita and Don Marcelino in Davao Occidental.

It was not clear whether the concerned animals had shown signs and symptoms of the disease but a source from the City Veterinary
Office told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) the culling was made as a precautionary measure.

Pascual said their personnel have taken blood samples from the culled animals, as well as those in nearby farms.

He clarified that ASF, which has similar symptoms with hog cholera, can only be confirmed through a laboratory test. The collected samples were already submitted to the agency’s Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory based in this city, he added.

“As of now, we cannot say yet that South Cotabato is already positive (of ASF),” he said in an interview with a local television station.

Due to the confirmed ASF outbreak in Davao Occidental, Pascual said various local governments in the region have already implemented lockdowns to prevent the spread of ASF to the area.

He said they also activated additional border quarantine checkpoints in entry and exit points along the national highways in this city and the provinces of Sarangani, South Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat.

Pascual said they have also dispatched surveillance teams to collect samples from animals in identified high-risk areas.

He cited the commercial and backyard farms situated in this city and the municipalities of Glan, Malungon, and Alabel in Sarangani, the nearest localities to Davao Occidental.

“They will be doing the surveillance and the collection of samples on a daily basis,” Pascual said.

In South Cotabato, Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. directed the province’s 11 city and municipal governments on Tuesday to implement “modified lockdowns” as a precautionary and preventive measure.

All live hogs, as well as fresh and processed pork products from Davao Occidental and other areas, are now prohibited from entering the area.

The municipal governments of Tampakan and Tboli, which host large hog farms, immediately implemented lockdowns following reports on the suspected ASF cases in Koronadal City. (PNA)