“Walang bakuna, walang gamot, at nakakahawa sa mga baboy.” This was the warning issued by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) about African Swine Fever, and therefore we should exert all preventive measures to prevent entry of this virus to the Philippines. Although ASF is not a human health threat, the swine industry is at risk as the virus is considered a highly contagious hemorrhagic disease of domestic and wild pigs of all ages which can cause as high as 100% mortality. The symptoms include high fever, loss of appetite, reddening of the skin and hemorrhages of the internal organs, and death which follows 2-10 days after the onset of symptoms.

These were all discussed by Dr. Emmanuel Villafuerte, head of the DA-BAI National Veterinary Quarantine Services during meeting with the stakeholders on July 3, in one of the hotels in Naga City. Present during the orientation workshop were provincial veterinarians of the six provinces, representatives from Department of Trade and Industry, LGUs, and SUCs such as Catanduanes State College, DEBESMSCAT, Cam. Norte State Colleges and Central Bicol State University of Agriculture. Alex Templonuevo, regional director of the National Meat Inspection Service in Bicol presented NMIS concerns. Dr. Josefina Banadera presented the Operational Plan to prevent the entry, control spread and eliminate the causative agent of ASF in case of outbreak.

Rosita Imperial, chief of the Regulatory Division said that the ASF is currently the biggest threat to the Philippine hog industry as it is gets near the archipelago. In the first semester of 2019, ASF has affected six countries including Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, North Korea, Hongkong and just last month, ASF has been reported in Lao PDR. As of June this year, some 19 countries were already affected by ASF including Belguim, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, Zambia, and China.

Nationwide efforts to prevent the entry of ASF in the country have been in place over the past years. In 2018, the DA issued Memo Order No. 22 entitled Prohibiting the Use of Catering Food Wastes/Left-overs from International and Domestic Airports and Seaports as Swine Swill Feed throughout the Country. The Bureau of Animal Industry has been strictly implementing BABES or (B) –Banning importation of domestic and wild pigs, their meat, meat products and by-products from ASF affected countries; (A) -Avoid swill feeding, (B) – Blocking entry at airports and seaports of smuggled shipments, luggages from ASF affected countries, and food wastes from foreign vessels; (E) –Educate our people and (S) – Submit blood samples to laboratories.

Pork and pork by-products such as sausages, hams and other processed pork products from other countries are being confiscated at the airports. Persons who will violate RA 10536 will pay P200,000 fine.

The DA is urging all hog raisers, whether in small or commercial scale, to be vigilant and report any symptoms or mortality to the nearest veterinarian in your area. The private sector can help educate the public by sharing posts, news and other IEC materials on African Swine Fever which are mostly downloadable at the ASF portal of the www.bai.gov.ph.

As DA RTD for Research and Regulations Dr. Edgar R. Madrid said, “we have to be informed so we could share the vital information necessary to save our hog industry and maintain food safety. “We (at DA) are comfortable that we are not alone in this cause,” added Dr. Madrid. (Lovella P. Guarin/ photos by Eduardo Collantes, Jr. RAFIS 5)