SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA, Antique – Backyard raisers in Antique province are urged to protect their hog farms amid the continuing threat of African swine fever (ASF).
Dr. Marco Rafael Ardamil, Provincial Veterinary Office Public Health Division chief, in an interview on Monday, said backyard raisers should not let their guards down even if there is a lower chance the disease can enter from Capiz province considering the ASF-free province of Aklan that serves as a buffer zone in the north.
Capiz was the latest province that reported ASF cases but the spread has been stopped since no additional infections were recorded as of February.
“The ASF index case in Maayon, Capiz is believed to have come from Sara, Iloilo province that is just a few kilometers away,” Ardamil said.
He added that traders from Sara town usually go to Barangay Canapian in Maayon, where the index case in Capiz was reported, supposedly to buy vegetables but also surreptitiously purchased pork products despite border checkpoints set up in the province.
Ardamil admitted that their personnel assisted by the police were unable to totally check the baggage being brought into Antique at the border checkpoints in the municipalities of Hamtic and Anini-y, so hog raisers should be vigilant.
“It could not be denied that there are Antiqueños who are working in Iloilo province and would be coming home to Antique during weekends. So they are being urged to practice self-quarantine before going to their hog farms for they might not know that they are carrying the ASF virus,” Ardamil said.
Aside from pork-based products that they might be carrying to Antique, he said travelers may unknowingly be carriers of the virus particularly through their clothing.
Hog raisers are also told to change clothing when going to their farms to prevent carrying the virus and to strictly implement disinfection and biosecurity measures.
“Hogs have to be kept healthy also because they are more susceptible to the virus if they are not healthy or are stressed,” Ardamil said.
The first case of the ASF in Western Visayas was recorded in the municipality of Oton in Iloilo and has already spread to 21 other municipalities.
Currently, among those which are ASF-free are the municipalities of Tigbauan, Guimbal, Miag-ao, and San Joaquin in the southern part of Iloilo, which are considered the buffer zones in the southern part of Antique. (PNA)