Dr. Charlemagne Calo, head of the Koronadal City Veterinary Office. (Photo grab from the City of Koronadal Facebook page)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- A suspected case of the African swine fever (ASF) in nearby Koronadal City has turned out negative based on laboratory tests, an official said on Thursday.

Dr. Charlemagne Calo, head of the Koronadal City Veterinary Office, said blood samples taken from hogs that had made contact with animals from Sulop, Davao del Sur and suspected to have been infected with the disease have been cleared of the virus.

Calo said the samples were separate from the 42 hogs from Sulop that were ordered culled by the local government on Tuesday after some of them reportedly exhibited suspected symptoms of ASF.

The cleared hogs, which came from a local lechon (roasted pig) house, were previously mixed with the 42 culled animals and consequently considered as suspected ASF cases, he said.

“This is a positive development for us as it shows that the suspected ASF has not spread,” he told Philippine News Agency in a phone interview.

Calo said they are still waiting for the release of the test results taken from the culled hogs from Sulop, which is adjacent to the ASF-hit towns of Malita and Don Marcelino in Davao Occidental.

He said the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Region 12 (Soccsksargen), which facilitated the testing, initially submitted the samples to the Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory based here.

They were then sent to the Bureau of Animal Industry central office’s laboratory in Quezon City for confirmatory testing.

Calo said the DA central office is expected to release the test results on Friday.

As of Thursday, Calo said the 42 culled hogs from Sulop are still considered as suspected ASF cases.  

He said the animals were brought in by a local businessman on January 29, based on the shipping permit issued by the municipal government of Sulop.

Upon arrival, he said its owner was alarmed after recording a fatality and then another animal succumbed the following day.

Calo said the businessman immediately reported the matter to the South Cotabato Veterinary Office and the city government, which ordered the culling.   

“All affected animals were already buried and so the disease that affected them was already contained,” he said.

Calo said they consider the initial test result as “slight good news” but clarified the threat of possible ASF infestation in the area remains high. He said the city government is currently on high alert and already implemented the necessary prevention and control measures against the ASF.

“It is important for everyone to be always vigilant and cooperate with concerned authorities in case there are suspected cases in their areas,” he said.

Calo said residents, especially hog raisers or growers, should watch out for diseases that would cause high mortality among animals.

He said a major consideration for a suspected ASF outbreak is the high morbidity within a short period.

“For example, if you have a stock of 10 hogs and within three days at least eight have died due to illnesses like coughing, then that’s a possible case of ASF,” he said.

The official said the symptoms must be reported immediately to facilitate the proper containment of the affected area. (PNA)