Cebu News

Over ‘uncertainty’ as to cause of deaths of pigs: garcia stops culling of pigs

Robhe Jane C. Yara - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia has ordered a halt to the culling of pigs in Carcar City and mandated a “more calculated approach” to contain the spread of the African Swine Fever (ASF) in the province.

As Garcia found, the first set of tests conducted in Carcar showed that the positive blood samples came from pigs from a slaughterhouse that did not follow the disease's protocol.

In a press conference Monday, March 13, Garcia reiterated that standard procedures should be followed, such as testing the pigs that have manifested ASF-like symptoms or those that died by testing their blood samples through reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) and their spleen.

"In the case of Carcar, I learned for the first time that these samples came from the slaughterhouse. And there was no attempt whatsoever to trace where this meat came from, but it's just that it came from the slaughterhouse of Carcar. There was no attempt to confirm whether the positive result was confirmed by further tests," said Garcia.

"What we are trying to avoid here is not harm to the humans but harm to the pigs, harm to the hog industry. You do not get that from slaughterhouses," she added, emphasizing hog farms and backyard pig pens with pigs showing ASF symptoms should be tested instead.

Garcia suspected the pigs in Carcar could have tested positive for cholera and not ASF. She pointed out that there should be at least three types of tests to confirm pigs' infection for ASF aside from RT-PCR, including enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kits for detecting anti-ASFV antibodies, which were not performed.

The governor also cited the incubation period of an ASF-infected area, where massive deaths of pigs should be expected within five to seven days after the symptoms were first observed, adding Carcar City was not showing the same scenario.

Garcia also called out on the Department of Agriculture Central Visayas (DA-7) for not putting cholera (common swine flu) into another consideration for the pig's mortality, considering it consists of almost the same symptoms as ASF before instructing the culling in Carcar.

At the time, Garcia said around 143 pigs within the three suspected ASF-infected barangays in Carcar City have already been culled. She has ordered to stop culling in the last barangay infected, which is Barangay Guadalupe.

But she assured those raisers affected by the culling will still receive at least P5,000 from the Provincial Government aside from the about P15,000 financial assistance that will be given by DA.

Carcar City Mayor Patricio Barcenas also said earlier the city would provide at least P6,000 to P7,000 (based on a 60-kilo pig weight ratio) to hog raisers affected.

Meeting with Mayors

Also Monday, Garcia met with all the mayors within the red (ASF-infected), pink (buffer), yellow (surveillance), and light green (protected) zones under the national zoning plan.

She tasked mayors to gather all village chiefs in their areas and asked them to submit an inventory of all their backyard hog raisers and be given a checklist for ASF and cholera symptoms.

Garcia as well ordered disinfection of all backyard farms and pig pens and urged hog raisers to report to their barangay captains, which will report to the mayors and mayors to the Capitol for their pigs to be tested for possible ASF infection.

Additionally, she tasked the provincial veterinary office (PVO) to coordinate with laboratory clinics and see their capabilities to separate the virus for the pig's blood and spleen for ASF and even stool for cholera.

Garcia also ordered an immediate purchase of anti-cholera vaccines for the about 345,000 backyard hogs in the province.

Garcia instructed Carcar City to observe for another seven days before she decides whether to lift the ban of pig and pork-related products transportation outside the city or not.


Meanwhile, Department of Agricuture  assistant secretary for Visayas Salvador Diputado stressed the importance of registering agriculture products such as hogs under DA’s Registry System for Basic Sector in Agriculture.

Diputado said that under this system, hog owners will just have to register their livestocks at their respective Municipal Agriculture Office.

“This is the reason, we really encourage our hog raisers labi na gyud ning mga backyard raisers nga mo-register gyud sila kay sama aning ASF karon nga ingkaso i-culling ilang mga baboy at least naa silay insurance unya makadawat gyud sila og bayad. Libre ra gyud ang insurance premium ani. Sayang kaayo og dili sila mo avail kay naay budget ang gobyerno ani,” Diputado told The Freeman yesterday.

The payment is calibrated which means it will depend on the size of the hogs.

“Akong nahibaw-an at least makadawat na sila og tag P5,000 matag usa but depende na sa kadak-on sa baboy,” Diputado said.

He added that aside from Carcar City, there are four other local government units in Cebu, whose hogs also displayed some symptoms of ASF.

“But I am not at liberty to disclose the names of these LGUs kay under confirmatory test pa. Kay so far, ang mga gipang test nga baboy possible hog cholera ra siya kay same symptoms ra sila sa ASF,” Diputado said.

He said hog cholera is treatable and no need of culling unlike hogs affected with ASF.

Culling is when animals in disease-infected areas, infected or not, are slaughtered to prevent further disease spread.

Furthermore, Diputado said that the agriculture department is currently testing some vaccines from Vietnam to ASF-infected hogs.

“Pero nag wait pa ta sa resulta kung epektibo ba gyud siya,” Diputado added. — Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (FREEMAN)

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