Tacloban steps up watch vs. ASF

Tacloban steps up watch vs. ASF

TACLOBAN CITY – The city government here is stepping up measures to guard the borders against the spread of African swine fever (ASF) as it continues to plague several towns in Leyte province.

City veterinarian Eunice Alcantara said in a statement on Wednesday that police manning border checkpoints have been on alert to ensure no live pigs or pork meat products will be allowed to enter the city’s border without necessary documents.

On Feb. 19, local authorities confiscated some 140 kilograms of pork meat from nearby Sta. Fe town at the checkpoint in Basper village. Confiscated meat products were immediately buried in a pit within the slaughterhouse compound.

“Although the town is not considered as ASF-affected, the mere fact that the meat entered the city without the proper documentation, it is still considered as hot meat,” Alcantara said.

She called on residents to be vigilant by reporting to their office, village officials, or policemen if there are suspicious deliveries of pork meat.

“Even before the pronouncement of (the) DA (Department of Agriculture), we have (been) strict on documentary requirements in the transport of all swine and pork meat in the city. We just have to be more proactive this time,” she said.

On March 12, 2020, Mayor Alfred Romualdez issued an executive order banning the entry of products from Luzon and regulates shipment from Mindanao and the Visayas.

“But due to ASF cases in three towns in Leyte, we just depend on supplies from backyard raisers in this city and some nearby towns. If the situation will get worse, we can only sustain the pork demand of the city in the next one to two months,” Alcantara added.

The city is highly dependent on pork meat supplies from Mindanao as its abattoir slaughters 80 to 90 pigs daily during normal days.

Citing the latest inventory, she said the city has only 5,000 heads of swine raised in backyards, not enough to meet the meat requirement of its population of more than 250,000.

Earlier, ASF cases were detected in Abuyog, Burauen, La Paz, Pastrana, Javier, Dulag, Tanauan, Palo, and MacArthur. At least 4,000 hogs have been culled in the province since January.

Initial investigation showed the ASF virus could have been transmitted to local farms in Leyte through an infected boar used for natural mating and by hog traders who may have fed their stocks with contaminated food products.

Leyte is the first province in the Visayas that recorded confirmed ASF infection. The first case was recorded on Jan. 14 in Abuyog town.

Pigs affected by ASF manifest high fever, distinct reddish areas on the skin of the neck, chest, and extremities, plus bleeding of internal organs that could lead to death within two to 10 days. (PNA)

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