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Editorial | From 2019-nCoV to ASF

On September 2019, the Department of Agriculture reported that the African Swine Fever has reached the country, sweeping Rizal and Bulacan provinces that resulted to the culling of about 7,000 pigs. The African Swine Fever, a severe viral disease affecting hogs, can be transmitted through contaminated feeds, and even through non-living objects such as shoes, clothes and knives due to the virus’ high resistance. Although the virus cannot be transmitted to humans, it is highly fatal and contagious to pigs. There is still no known cure.

Over the weekend, we were surprised, to say the least, to find that San Marcelino town in Davao Occidental was placed under calamity when reports of about 1,000 pigs were hit by virus in eight of the 15 barangays as of January 31, Friday. This led to speculations that the virus could have infected hogs months back but these cases were not reported or monitored.

In an interview with Philippine Information Agency in San Marcelino town last Sunday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar sad that some 13,000 pigs might have been infected and will be culled to avoid spreading the disease. This number is almost twice that of last year’s reported hogs culled in the two Luzon provinces.

Sec. Dar said they are still looking into where the virus originated and how it was able to reach the coastal town of San Marcelino. Although it poses no risks to humans, its economic losses are staggering especially to backyard hog farmers who are solely dependent on raising hogs as their source of livelihood.

The local government and the DA has offered cash assistance to the farmers, emphasizing that it was not a loan but cautioning them from returning to raising hogs as the virus could still be present in the area. What we are seeing now are authorities scrambling to stop the spread to other towns, unable to nip the virus in the bud. Many, too, are wondering why it took 1,000 pigs to die before an outbreak was reported.

The region’s agriculture sector will have to bear this setback on top of the novel corona virus that has kept people on the edge this past days.

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