MAASIN CITY, April 16 (PIA) -- The Provincial African Swine Fever (ASF) task force is employing all available means in order to prevent the spread of a disease that has already infected domestic hogs following contamination in at least two barangays of Silago town.

In an emergency meeting held at the governor’s office Monday, Gov. Damian Mercado emphasized the need to stop the further spread of the disease this early, as the provincial government has invested so much in piggery and hog-raising projects.

Attending the meeting are several heads or representatives of national and provincial government agencies as well as private businessmen engaged in the hog industry.

Francisco Cabarrubias, provincial veterinarian, reported that the first cases of ASF infestation in the province was confirmed last month in barangays Katipunan and Imelda in Silago, while submitted samples from a third barangay, Catmon, are still being awaited as this report was written.

As an immediate response, 32 hogs with an estimated value of P440,000 were culled in the infected area, and strict monitoring and surveillance checkpoints were established, Cabarrubias said.

It was found out that workers in barangay Katipunan who are working in the neighboring town of Abuyog, where ASF incidents were first noticed in the region, brought home leftover food or swill feeds partaken by neighbors and that started the circulation of the hog-borne disease, Cabarrubias added.

He sought the help of Geraldine Maquelabit, DILG provincial director, so that barangay officials be held responsible for monitoring and surveillance on the presence of ASF in their areas, including submission of periodic hog inventory reports to the provincial veterinary office, saying this was already mandated in Section 11 of Executive Order No. 14.

Yeye Lao, a commercial hog raiser in the city, affirmed that implementation and control be targetted at the barangay level, presumably because everyone knows everybody in the barangay setting.

Liloan Mayor Shirlita Chong, president of the league of municipalities in the province, was also requested during the emergency meeting to relay the information to the mayors and down to the barangay, for all the people to be aware and be alert.

ASF is a contagious haemorrhagic viral disease of domestic and wild pigs of all ages characterized by high fever, loss of appetite, and reddening of the skin resulting to death between 2-10 days on average.

It is transmitted by direct contact with infected pigs, ingestion of garbage or swill feeds containing infected pork/pork products, ticks and biting flies, and contaminated premises, vehicles, equipment or clothing. (ldl/mmp/PIA8-Southern Leyte)