By URIEL C. QUILINGUING
Contributing Editor .
THE dreaded African swine fever could seriously affect Northern Mindanao’s P7.2-billion swine industry where the livelihood of some 56,000 backyard and commercial raisers come from.
Veterinarian Benjamin Albarece, president of the Northern Mindanao Hog Raisers Association (Norminhog), expressed his fears during an ASF forum in Cagayan de Oro, a day before deaths of some 600 pigs was reported Saturday in Montalvan town of Rizal province.
The incident prompted the agriculture department’s bureau of animal industry personnel to isolate about 2,000 heads of pig within the vicinity of barangays Macabud, San Isidro and San Jose of Montalvan.
BAI took specimens and blood samples from the carcasses for laboratory examinations, the confirmatory results are expected to be released after two weeks.
Meantime, Agriculture Secretary William Dar, who assumed the post just this month, neither confirmed nor denied whether those hogs died due to the ASF virus.
Albarece, who helped organize the series of ASF fora for industry frontliners, said Norminhog regularly market some 28,000 heads of pigs every month to Cebu, the region’s main market.
Dr. Romualdo Buenviaje Jr., a senior swine specialist from San Miguel Corp.’s animal health department, was the activity’s speaker who’s opening line was: “We should be very scared of the ASF!”
This is so, Buenviaje said, because ASF has no vaccine and treatment for ASF.
“Information on ASF must be handled well and this is done by avoiding and removing all speculations,” he said, adding that all mysterious deaths must be reported immediately to appropriate offices so that these can be investigated and samples be laboratory tested.
Buenviaje said manifestations found dead hogs infected with ASF virus are similar to other animal diseases such as hog cholera, PRRS (porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome), swine flu, cirovirus, and pseudorabies.
Among the clininal signs, he said, are loss of appetite, recumbency [pigs resting in dorsal positions for easier brething], fever, vomiting and diarrhea which contains blood stains.
He said that ASF infected swines would have sudden deaths after suffering from high fever (40 to 41 degrees centigrade), reddening of the skins, decreased appetite, eye discharges, and abortion for pregnant sows.
“The government must take ASF seriously,” Buenviaje said, adding that aside from virus isolation practices, agency frontliners must have the diagnostic tools since early detection is vital.
The agriculture department in coordination with the local governments and industry associations must strictly enforce the protocols in checkpoints, quarantine procedures, zoning, and biosecurity on backyard farms and farming community borders.
What makes the tasks challenging, he said, is the industry’s composition where 70% are engaged in backyard raising while only 30% are into commercial scale.
The tick-borne (Ornithodoros porcinus) highly contagious ASF virus found in pigs has been wreaking havoc in the pork industry since last year which has already been detected in more than 20 countries worldwide, including China, Thailand, Vietnam and North Korea.
Regulatory division chief Juliet Araos of DA regional field office 10 said the ASF will be held in series of three forum for Bukidnon’s hog raisers in four congressional districts, the first of which was held at VIP hotel, Aug 16, and then on Aug. 19 and 20.
Municipal council’s agriculture committee chairpersons, municipal agriculturists, livestock coordinators, veterinarians, hog raisers and farm technicians attended the fora.