2 Benguet towns record ASF cases

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LA TRINIDAD, Benguet February 08 – Local officials here confirmed that the dreaded African Swine Fever (ASF) virus already reached two municipalities which prompted the provincial government to impose a total ban on the entry of live pigs from any part of the country to contain the spread of the disease in other towns.

Provincial Veterinarian Miriam Tiongan claimed that the reported ASF cases were found in the piggery farms in Camp 1, Tuba and Beckel, La Trinidad which compelled the provincial government to adopt the needed measures to prevent the spread of the disease to the 11 remaining towns of the province.

Benguet province has jurisdiction of all the national highways leading to Baguio City and capital town La Trinidad- Naguillian Road from Bauang town in La Union; San Pascual Road from Tubao town, La Union; Marcos Highway from Pugo, La Union; Kennon Road from Rosario La Union; Benguet-Vizcaya Road via Bokod, Benguet from Kayapa Nueva Vizcaya; the Benguet-Ifugao Road via Buguias Benguet; Halsema Highway that connects to Mountain Province leading to Ifugao and Region 2 (Cagayan Valley); the road to Sudipen La Union via Bakun town; and the Benguet- Cervantes Road that connects to Ilocos Sur.

The provincial veterinarian claimed that the laboratory results of the samples that were taken from the piggery farms in the said places were positive that prompted the local government to confirm the presence of ASF in the two municipalities of the province.

She disclosed that the province will only allow the entry of imported frozen meat which has been certified to have come from ASF-free countries to cater to the huge demand of meat in the province while the temporary ban on live pigs entering Benguet will be in full force and effect.

Tiongan said in Camp 1, there are 177 “de-populated” (culled) pigs in a commercial piggery after a pig was tested positive for the virus. She said the pigs include the Vietnamese variety pigs which are likened to native boars and the local breed.

Tiongan said the owner himself reported of the incident and has opted to have all his animals immediately culled to prevent the possible spread of the disease.

She said they suspect the contamination came from the swill feed that the owner gets from a restaurant in Baguio as the cause of the ASF.

In Beckel, La Trinidad, a police officer bought P200,000 worth of piglets online and picked them up from Pangasinan.

He then transported the 52 heads of swine in concealed ordinary pickup trucks to avoid being discovered at quarantine checkpoints, allowing him to bring in the animals despite lack of clearances and permits.

“We went to the place on Monday for a de-pop but one of the 11 had again died and the others so weak and showing signs of ASF so the owner was asked to kill everything,” Tiongan said.

She said they have been very aggressive telling the public to abide by their guidelines to prevent the entry of the ASF virus.

By Dexter A. See