Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson convened the province’s Task Force on African swine fever (ASF) amid the continuing threat of the disease to the Philippines’ swine industry.
“There is a need to protect the multi-billion swine industry of the province against the devastating effect of the ASF outbreak,” the governor said in Executive Order 2019-23.
Negros Occidental is the country’s number one producer of backyard swine. The province has a total swine population of 508,709 heads, including 451,035 heads from backyard raisers and 57,674 heads from the commercial sector as of January 2019.
Lacson chairs the task force, which includes quick response, quarantine, surveillance, information, education and communication, and legal teams. Provincial Veterinarian Renante Decena has been named as vice-chairman.
The task force is assigned to carry out the proper implementation of the ASF prevention and control measures, enhance biosecurity practices in all ports of entry and swine production facilities, and coordinate and cooperate with the appropriate national government agencies in case of a suspected outbreak.
It is also tasked to enhance biosecurity practices in all ports of entry and swine production facilities, conduct initial disease investigation and institute outbreak control protocols in case of a suspected outbreak, and impose closure of any farm confirmed to be infected with ASF.
In the past weeks, the Provincial Veterinary Office, through Animal Health and Meat Inspection Services Division, has been strengthening measures to prevent the entry of the dreaded ASF in the province.
Initiatives included the close inspection and monitoring of the entry of frozen and processed pork products and the installation of additional footbaths in all ports of entry for heightened disease surveillance.
The Philippines’ Department of Agriculture and the Department of Transportation have been campaigning against the disease, following the outbreak in neighboring countries like China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Mongolia and with active cases found in 17 other countries.
ASF is a contagious hemorrhagic viral disease among domestic and wild pigs that can spread rapidly regardless of borders.
Though ASF is not a risk to human health, it can still bring serious economic and production losses to the swine industry. (PNA)
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