After red tide, swine flu hits Capiz

(Photo courtesy of DA-6)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Within the span of 24 hours, the province of Capiz received both good and bad news in its agricultural sector, having been cleared of red tide on one hand but only to be infected by the African Swine Fever (ASF) on the other.

The ASF news was confirmed by the Department of Agriculture-Western Visayas (DA-WV) on Thursday, via a letter from officer-in-charge Regional Director Jose Albert Barrogo.

According to Barrogo’s Feb 23, 2023 letter to Capiz Governor Fredenil Castro, 4 out of 6 samples from Brgy. Canapian in Maayon town tested positive for ASF.

Samples were submitted by the Capiz Provincial Veterinarian’s Office to the DA-WV on Wednesday, Feb 22, and were subsequently tested at the Regional Animal Diseases and Diagnostic Laboratory 6 (RADDL-6) on the same day.

The DA-WV made the following recommendations to the provincial government in the same letter:

–          Implementation of immediate quarantine and disease control measures in the affected premises;

–          Proper culling and disposing of all remaining hogs in the affected areas;

–          Conducting disease investigation, especially contact tracing:

–          Conducting field surveillance and sample collection in all farms households with susceptible animals within the 1-kilometer quarantine zone from the infected area; and

–      Coordinating with concerned local government units and other agencies or offices for the implementation of other necessary disease control measures in the area of concern as stipulated in Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) guidelines.

A day before, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), an attached agency of the DA, cleared three towns of Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP) or red tide – Panay, Pilar, and President Roxas.

This was made public through Shellfish Advisory Nos. 8, 9, and 10, which were posted to BFAR’s Facebook page at around 6:30 p.m.

The negative results were confirmed after 3 consecutive weeks of sampling of the coastal waters in the three towns, which had been the subjects of Red Tide alerts from BFAR until Tuesday, Feb 21.

“Therefore, the public is hereby informed that shellfish samples harvested from coastal waters of [Panay, Pilar, and President Roxas] in Capiz are now safe for human consumption. Likewise, gathering and/or harvesting and marketing of shellfishes from the above-mentioned [areas] are now permitted,” the BFAR said in all three Shellfish Advisories on February 22.

The BFAR noted, however, that they would continue to monitor the coastal waters in coordination with the local government units.

With the clearance given to the three towns, all areas in Western Visayas monitored by the BFAR for red tide are now considered “red tide-free” and thus the shellfish caught and harvested from them are considered to be safe to eat.

BFAR’s Shellfish Bulletin No. 6 indicates five coastal areas where all types of shellfish and Acetes species of ‘alamang’ shrimp are considered unsafe for human consumption, including Milagros in Masbate, San Pedro Bay in Samar, Dauis and Tagbilaran City in Bohol, Lianga Bay in Surigao del Sur, and Dumanquillas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur.