Iloilo probes suspected ASF case

(Photo courtesy of Eusuya Backyard/file)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

The Iloilo provincial government on Thursday announced that there were suspected hogs exposed to the African Swine Fever (ASF) in a southern town, in what could be the region’s first cases of the disease.

Iloilo Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) chief Darel Tabuada confirmed that they are investigating a suspected ASF case in one area of the province.

Tabuada said that the ASF infection was confined to one backyard converted into a commercial farm but he did not disclose the exact location so as not to hamper their field operations as well as not to induce panic among residents.

There were symptoms detected in the hogs including high fever, inappetence (lack of appetite), cyanosis (purplish and bluish hues to the skin), and bleeding.

The suspected status of the infection was triggered by a reactive sample from a test conducted by the Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Iloilo City, which the PVO was alerted to last Monday, October 10.

Out of eight blood samples collected, five were seen to have tested positive for ASF under the regional laboratory’s rapid testing.

“[The farmer] thought that while he continued to treat [the hogs] with antibiotics and other [medicines], the hogs remained [to be sick], so he called his attending veterinarian, and considering that they found difficulty to diagnose, submitted a sample to the laboratory,” Tabuada narrated during the press conference.

PVO personnel went to the site on Thursday morning and collected new blood samples from the hogs.

Together with the results from the regional laboratory, these new blood samples were sent to the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Animal Industry’s (DA-BAI) Animal Disease Diagnosis and Reference Laboratory in Quezon City for further confirmatory testing.

While the PVO is still waiting for confirmatory test results, which may be released today, Tabuada said that Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. called for a disaster cluster meeting “to prepare for the worst-case scenario”.

In this meeting, Tabuada told the governor that they had initially implemented border control within a 500-meter radius of the farm.

The movement of swine within this radius is currently being heavily-regulated, and border checkpoints were installed with the help of police and barangay officials.

If the tests do yield positive results for ASF, the PVO will be ordering a “depopulation” or killing of hogs within this radius in order to prevent further infections.

Municipal ASF task forces were also directed by the governor to be activated to prepare for untoward scenarios.