Three more Iloilo towns suspected to have ASF cases

Police and local agriculture personnel disinfect a vehicle loaded with hogs at a checkpoint in Cabatuan, Iloilo to prevent the spread of the African Swine Fever. (Cabatuan MPS photo)

By John Noel E. Herrera

Three more towns in Iloilo are suspected to have African Swine Fever (ASF) cases, according to Iloilo Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Darel Tabuada.

Tabuada said in a press conference on Thursday, Nov 3, 2022 that they conducted blood sample testing related to ASF in three towns in the province following reports on the “unexplained mortality” of more than 10 pigs in three towns.

“Right now we are waiting for the results. Nag-conduct kita surveillance last Saturday sa isa ka municipality and kahapon (Nov 2) may isa man kita nga gin surveillance kag sa subong man (Nov 3) sa mga adjacent towns sang infected areas. Later today or early tomorrow (we will release the results) para tingob na lang ang tatlo,” Tabuada added.

Tabuada did not identify the towns “to avoid panic from the public”, but explained that these towns were included in the pink zone areas of the province’s current ASF zoning classifications, and also considered “high producer municipalities.”

“Dako man ni sila (stocks of pigs in three municipalities) ang volume nila kay actually part ni sila ya sang mga high producer man naton nga municipalities, and also may ara na commercial farm sa sulod (one town),” he added.

The updated ASF zoning in the province revealed that the towns of Alimodian, Cabatuan, Santa Barbara, Leon, Pavia, Tigbauan, and Iloilo City were included in the pink zone areas or buffer zones.

Tabuada also cited challenges in determining different disposal areas to depopulate the pigs, as well as the resistance from the farmers to cooperate with the provincial government and subject their farms or pigs to testing.

“Ang concern namon subong, gina-una namon danay depopulate ang mga nagakalamatay na nga mga baboy kag mga farm nga infected na and damo na gakalamatay, so amu na gina una naton subong kay challenge ang disposal areas,” Tabuada added.

The Iloilo Provincial Veterinary Office (IPVO) also suggested that disposal areas for depopulated pigs should just be within the locality of affected areas to prevent further contamination.

“Dapat on-site ang disposal areas, dapat ang barangay mangita kay mas maayo nga dira lang sa locality gina lubong para malikawan ang contamination. May mga protocol man na kita on how to dispose kung malayo ang aton disposal areas pero hindi lang sa iban nga banwa, dapat within the municipality kag ang mga munisipyo dapat may ara disposal areas nga ma-identify kag compliant sa environmental law,” Tabuada said.

Data from IPVO also indicated that a total of 772 pigs were already depopulated, as of Nov 3, 2022. Of the total heads, 688 were reported in Oton, Iloilo, where 25 barangays already have confirmed ASF cases, while 84 were recorded in San Miguel town with two barangays already having confirmed cases.

Out of 366 samples tested in Oton town, 147 turned out positive for ASF, while 32 of the 38 samples tested in San Miguel also turned out positive.

ASF has also affected 81 farmers in Oton, Iloilo and nine in San Miguel.

Both towns of Oton and San Miguel earlier declared a state of calamity after confirming cases of ASF.

Meanwhile, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. also earlier said that the provincial government is considering declaring a state of calamity over the entire province, as more ASF cases have been confirmed.

Defensor added that some options that are on the table are the state of calamity declaration, a request for a supplemental budget, or to wait for the 2023 provincial budget.

The provincial government also initially announced a P10,000 per farmer cash assistance, as well as rice packs, and started to collaborate with the municipal government for the cleansing and recovery of the towns from ASF.

The local ASF task force created by the provincial government also continues to assist the affected areas and intensify the monitoring, surveillance, investigations, and operations of conducting the test and destroy protocols against ASF.