MANILA, Philippines, February 10 ------ The government’s quarantine and surveillance measures may not be as effective as believed to be after food waste coming from Luzon and even Indonesia is seen to have caused the outbreak of African swine fever in Mindanao. “Investigations show the outbreak in Davao Occidental could be that the ASF virus was brought in through swill feeds or food wastes from pork products brought from ASF-affected Indonesia. Or from food items brought home by residents working in Bulacan and Pampanga, in Luzon, and in Quezon City, during the Christmas season,” chief veterinarian and Bureau of Animal Industry director Ronnie Domingo said.
The Department of Agriculture continues to investigate how ASF got into a town in Davao Occidental when the disease has been concentrated in Luzon. The government has repeatedly said it has ramped up quarantine measures to avoid the spread of ASF. Indonesia is close to Mindanao and while the country is mostly Muslim, there is Christian population that may have likely brought pork and pork products. It was in December last year when Indonesia confirmed its first outbreak of ASF. So far, Davao Occidental and Davao City have confirmed cases of ASF in Mindanao after the disease incursion in Davao City where dozens of hogs in Barangays Dominga and Lamanan of Calinan District died.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the hogs were brought by traders from a livestock auction market in Sulop in Davao del Sur that sources hogs from nearby towns of Don Marcelino and Malita in Davao Occidental—both earlier declared as ASF-infected areas. Latest data showed that 407 heads of hogs were culled, out of the total swine population of 2,398 in the two barangays. Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte has offered an additional P5,000 per head on top of the P5,000 given by the DA to each affected hog raiser.
The provincial government of Davao del Sur has also ordered the temporary closure of the Sulop livestock auction market. To date, the Philippines continues to see outbreaks of ASF with culled pigs nearing 200,000 even as the government maintains that the disease is tapering off. In its recent follow-up reports to the World Organization for Animal Health, the Philippines said 130 new outbreaks have been recorded and a total of 191,641 pigs were already killed since the outbreak started in August 2019.
As of the latest data from the government, there are 2,891 cases of ASF in the country. Other affected provinces include Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Aurora, Tarlac, Rizal, Cavite, Pangasinan, and parts of Metro Manila particularly Quezon City, Caloocan City and Malabon. The ASF outbreak occurred in China in August 2018. It has since spread to other countries including Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, Zambia, Vietnam, Mongolia, Cambodia, Hong Kong, North Korea, Laos and Indonesia.