ASF Updates as of December 23, 2020

DA Bicol Rolls out Sentinel Pigs in previously ASF Affected municipalities

The Department of Agriculture Bicol is set to test if it is already safe for local hog raisers in previously ASF – infected municipalities to rear or breed pigs as it began distributing sentinel pigs to the first batch of 56 farmers in the municipalities of Canaman and Magarao in Camarines Sur over the week. Sentinel animals are placed in a given environment and then monitored to find out if an infectious disease or other harmful agent is present in the environment. The recipients signed an agreement that they will take care of the pig for a period of 42 days and will cooperate with the DA team who will conduct close monitoring and blood sample collection on the animals.

Each farmer received a 3-month old piglet, vitamins and biologics and feeds courtesy of Apollo Feeds to determine if the pigs could survive and progress to maturity without any trace of ASF virus based on the close monitoring and laboratory results on blood samples regularly collected from the pigs. If after the 42-day trial period no trace of ASF virus or no adverse effects had been detected, the RQRT will then recommend to the BAI for the declaration of and granting to the particular LGU an ASF – free status.

According to Dr. Edgar  A. Madrid, Regional Technical Director for  Regulations and Research and presiding officer of the Regional Quick Response Team (RQRT) for ASF and  Emerging Animal Diseases, the selection of the municipalities as  pilot areas for  deployment of sentinel pigs were based on the  negative  monitoring report or no incidence report of ASF recurrence or new incidence and the compliance of the LGUs with  all the requirements set by the RQRT and the Bureau of Animal Industry and  willingness and preparedness of the LGUs to cooperate.

It has been 10 months since the first ASF outbreak was declared in the Camarines Sur province. To date more than 17,000 heads of swine owned by over 2,400 farmers have been depopulated in 33 municipalities and cities in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Albay. The DA has paid over P52.28 million indemnification for the depopulated hogs.

Leonila Alma from barangay Mangayawan in Canaman surrendered 3 sows and 14 fatteners for depopulation when their barangay was declared within the ASF affected zone. She received indemnification for the 17 heads.  “Salamat giraray sa DA ta nakabali ulit ako sa  mga natawan kaining sentinel pig.  Liwat maipapadagos mi ang pag ataman nin orig.  Itong binayad sako kan DA na indemnification halos pinangbayad ko man sana sa utang ko sa feeds.  Pero okay na ito ta mayo na akong iisipon na utang.  Kung marhay an resulta kaining sentinel pig makabawi man giraray kami.” she said with optimism. “Pero seguro dapat matawan  kami nin ayuda bako lang sa pag-orig. Dapat may alternatibong  pagkukuanan nin hanapbuhay ta arog kaining may pandemya o may epidemya an orig  iguang  masasarigan na iba. “ she mused.

Mayor Nelson Legaspi of Canaman thanked DA for sentinel pigs their 40 farmers which he said is just one of the numerous assistance that their municipalities have already received from the agency along with palay seeds, fertilizers, cash assistance, vegetable seeds, ASF indemnification, and FMRs. 

Maski ngani kadakul na challenges kitang inatubang asin  inagihan kita nin mga kalamidad kawsa kung tano igua satong mga nawara o losses. Pero yaon  pirmi ang DA handa para kita tabangan bumangon  asin I replenish su mga nawara sato arog kan mga banhi asin ngonian ining mga orig para makapuon kamo giraray” , Mayor Legaspi  said.

In Magarao town 16 farmers received the sentinel pigs.  Dr. Josefina Bañadera, ASF Regional Focal Person and member of the RQRT urged the recipients of the sentinel pigs to take care of the pigs. “Kayo ang susi sa tagumpay ng trial na ito”. She also discussed some tips in caring for the pigs.

Jojit Nacario of Apollo Feeds which volunteered to provide for free the HOG feeds for six (6) weeks also discussed briefly some tips in proper and efficient feeding and care for the hogs.  Other feed companies like Pigrolac have also volunteered to provide free feeds to the next batch of recipients of sentinel pigs in other municipalities. Meanwhile  National Meat  Inspection Service, OIC regional Director Alex Templonuevo who is also a member of the RQRT and was present  during the  distribution of sentinel pig  said that their office has  gathered  substantial  evidences and is set to file cases  against violators of republic Act 9296 or the Meat Inspection Code of the Philippines. He also  announced that more LGUs have submitted their official  request for the establishment of slaughterhouse in their respective locality as the now see the importance of   this facility  in the ensuring safe and quality meat  and its potential of generating income for their municipality.  He cited the LGU of Canaman for positively responding to the clustering approach proposed by the NMIS and agreeing to be one of the 6 municipalities which shall avail of the slaughtering services of the Naga District Abattoir, the first of its kind in the country. (EMILY B. BORDADO/DA RAFIS 5)

New ASF Cases Surges in Camarines Provinces spills over to Albay (Sept. 30, 2020)

PILI, CAMARINES SUR – As the Department of Agriculture here is gearing up for the declaration of ASF-Free status in some of the municipalities of Camarines Sur previously affected by this swine virus, new outbreaks and cases surged in six additional municipalities and 1 in Camarines Sur and spilled over in one barangay in Albay province. Recurrence was also noted in 3 municipalities.

The new confirmed cases based on laboratory tests to date are in 56 barangays in 9 municipalities and 1 city: 3-in Milaor; 8 in Minalabac; 20 in Bula; 11 in Pili; and 4 in Nabua; 1 in Iriga; 2 in Baao, 3 in San Fernando and 3 in Sta. Elena in Camarines Norte and I barangay in Pio Duran, Albay. Based on the field investigation report, the case in Sta. Elena was likely a spillover from the adjacent Calauag, Quezon where a river traverses through their boundaries. The case in Pio Duran was a spillover from Camarines Sur where pigs from infected municipalities were clandestinely transported through the back door or newly opened routes connecting the two provinces.

The DA Regional Quick Response Team on ASF and other Emerging Animal Diseases presided by Regional Technical Director for Regulations & Research, Dr. Edgar R. Madrid made its assessment on the sudden spike of new cases. One of the reasons identified is the influx of viajeros coming from outside the Bicol region who have contacts or agents in every municipality who buy live pigs at a higher price than the local buyers. These agents establish holding or pooling pens where pigs bought from different municipalities are temporarily held while awaiting for the viajeros to pick them up. Upon investigation by the DA team it was found out that these viajeros would bring their carrier trucks and stand by or linger in an uninfected municipality and there buy some healthy pigs and secure veterinary health certificates for the healthy pigs they bought while waiting for their agents to bring in the pigs bought by their agents from infected municipalities.

It has also been noted that most LGUs have already dismantled their local checkpoints citing that their funds are already depleted with expenses incurred mostly on COVID related interventions. Moreover, some LGUs have been lenient and slow in the implementation of mandatory depopulation in their affected barangays. Some reasons cited is the unavailability of supplies and machines needed such as disinfectants, limes and back hoe and the difficulty in identifying the disposal or burial site as this has to be approved by the DENR.

According to DA Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla in compliance with Memorandum Order No. 24 issued by Secretary William Dar on April 17, 2020 depopulation should immediately be undertaken by the LGU once the positive laboratory test result has been forwarded to them by DA Regional Executive Director. Depopulation entails the rapid and deliberate killing of infected and potentially infected, or contact animals in an attempt to “stamp out” disease and prevent it from spreading to a healthy population while employing prescribed means of humane culling in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act. This has to be undertaken by the LGU concerned, assisted by the Provincial and Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council and with the technical support of the DA through the Regional Quick Response Team for Emerging Animal Diseases within 7 days after the confirmation of positive case.

For the new and recent ASF cases depopulation has been conducted starting August 8 to date with an initial count totaling to1,153pigs owned by 220 raisers broken down as follows: 96 pigs owned by 13 raisers in Milaor; 262 pigs owned by 43 raisers in 8 barangays of Minalabac; 387 pigs owned by 66 raisers in 13 barangays in Bula; 762 pigs owned by 93 raisers in 9 barangays in Pili; 37 pigs owned by 2 raisers in 2 barangays in Nabua and 9 heads owned by 3 raisers in Sta. Elena, Camarines Norte.

Another reason for the fast spread of the virus especially in this second wave is the clandestine slaughtering and selling of pigs in the ASF areas already declared ASF infected instead of surrendering them for depopulation which is a violation of the Meat Inspection Code and the Food Safety Act. Already the Regulatory Division of the DA headed by Rosita Imperial has recommended to BAI for the revocation of licenses of meat traders who have violated said law.

The RQRT has also coordinated with the local officials for the mobilization of Task Force “Bantay Karne” in their respective areas. The National Meat Inspection Service Team headed by Dr. Alex Templonuevo are also making regular rounds in the affected municipalities and conducting inspections and confiscations of hot meats and meat products. To date the regional NMIS has already confiscated and condemned 49,882.74 kg of meat and meat products. Dr. Templonuevo said they are also closely monitoring on-line selling of meat and meat products and admonish the public from buying through this mode especially if the sellers have no legit documents.

On the other hand the Quarantine personnel headed by Regional Veterinary Quarantine Officer, Dr. Emmanuel Villafuerte of the Bureau of Animal Industry who are manning the 23 DA veterinary checkpoints, to date, has already confiscated and condemned 40 heads of pigs and 28,806.52 kg. meat coming from ASF infected. In addition a total of 36,488.94 kilograms of meat and meat products and 7,695 heads of pigs and chicken were apprehended and ordered returned to origin for lack of necessary documents such as veterinary health certificate, local shipping permit, livestock handler’s license and transport carrier accreditation. .With this recent development the RQRT through RTD Madrid has recommended to Dir. Tornilla to invite the local chief executives for a virtual meeting via zoom to discuss the problems and measures to be undertaken to stem the further spread of the virus.

The first ASF case in Camarines Sur was confirmed and declared on February 20, 2020 in Bombon Camarines Sur and since then it has affected 17 municipalities of Cam. Sur and one barangay along the Quezon-Bicol border in Sta. Elena Camarines Norte. An almost flattening of the curve in the occurrence of positive cases was noted between May and July when the average positive case was only 5.3.To date, DA Bicol has already paid P45,510 million indemnification for 9,102 depopulated pigs owned by 1,738 farmers in the first ten municipalities affected by the ASF. In addition it has extended assistance package consisting of 3,720 heads of free-ranged chicken and mallard ducks to 364 ASF-affected farmers who did not qualify for indemnification. It has again requested the BAI for the next tranche of release of indemnification funds.The confirmatory tests on samples collected from suspected infected pigs were conducted at the Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (RADDL) based in Camalig, Albay.

The RQRT Surveillance Team has so far collected and analyzed 2,465 blood samples and 113 organ/tissue samples and diagnosed 2,589 animals suspected for ASF. It has also conducted 462 field investigations. Information dissemination via virtual meetings with provincial an city vets, municipal agriculturists, radio interviews, distribution of IEC materials and issuance and posting of news releases and advisories and infographics are also being aggressively being done. (EMILY B. BORDADO /DA-RAFIS5)