Authorities are now scrambling to contain the spread of the deadly African Swine Fever (ASF) in the towns of Dauin and Sibulan after Negros Oriental reported its first case over the weekend in barangay Maayong Tubig, about 22 kilometers south of Dumaguete.
“It’ just a matter of time before the ASF will spread like wildfire,” according to Provincial Veterinary Office OIC Benilda Villaheremosa in a meeting with veterinarians Friday.
ASF cases have been reported in the towns of Dauin and Sibulan. Villahermosa reported that as of Friday, 300 pigs had been culled in Dauin, and at least 60 pigs were also culled in Tubtubon, Sibulan.
The mortality rate due to ASF is between 95 or 100 percent of affected pigs.
However, pigs with ASF are not known to harm nor pass the virus to human beings.
National, regional, and provincial officials from the Bureau of Animal Industry were in Negros Oriental last week to assist in containment measures.
The biggest problem in culling the pigs, Villahermosa said, is in indemnifying the pig growers. Many growers stand to lose a lot of money due to the ASF, because they did not insure their pigs with the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp.
“Now, it’s too late to insure their pigs because of the 21-day contestability period,” she said.
Dauin Mayor Galicano Truita immediately issued an executive order on Saturday to prevent the transmission of the ASF virus to other barangays, following the laboratory result from the BAI central office that showed blood samples collected from pigs in Maayong Tubig tested positive for ASF.
The ASF cases were traced to the feeding by the swine of swill (food waste that contains meat) from the Dumaguete City Public Market.
Executive Order No. 2023-19.1 calls for a temporary ban on the entry and exit of swine/pigs, including fresh and frozen products; the suspension of swine-related activities, such as slaughtering, in the municipality; and the immediate culling of the bovine animals in Purok 1 and 2 of Barangay Maayong Tubig.
Authorities are still doing back-tracing to find out the source of the ASF virus, noting that a temporary ban on the entry and exit of live pigs, pork and by-products in Negros Oriental was in effect in previous months.
Meanwhile, Cebu hog growers have asked the government to stop the practice of culling pigs that are not affected with the ASF virus, noting its economic effect on the country’s P260 billion swine industry.
Cebu hog growers estimated that there have been 5,000 pigs that were otherwise healthy but had to be culled because they were within the 500-meter radius of ASF-contaminated pigs.
“Culling is counter- productive, affects the country’s food security, and causes the disease to spread even more as farmers who fear total loss are forced to sell their hogs or smuggle sickly pigs,” the Cebu hog growers said.
In 2022, the country imported 710.3 million kilos of pork at a reduced tariff, which is almost half of the country’s pork demand. (with reports from Judy F. Partlow/PNA)