Palawan vets probe mysterious swine deaths in island towns

The provincial veterinary office of Palawan has dispatched a disease surveillance team to two island towns on its eastern side to investigate the mysterious deaths in backyard piggeries. The team was deployed to the villages of Cocoro and Balaguen in the town of Magsaysay and in Coron last week after the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) received reports of swine mortalities, officer-in-charge Dr. Darius Mangcucang said over the weekend. The PVO investigation on the swine deaths began with an anonymous tip. He said the surveillance group will collect blood samples that will be sent to the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) to determine the nature of the disease or whether Asian swine fever (ASF) has entered Palawan. "The current issue is centered on Cocoro Island. We cannot dispense information without confirmation. Our response included promptly dispatching a surveillance team and conducting a thorough disease investigation. Blood samples were also taken on the island and are scheduled for submission to the BAI," he said. He said Cocoro Island had been isolated to prevent potential disease transmission until confirmation can be obtained. The municipal ASF task forces in both towns, he explained, have been mobilized following the guidelines of Provincial Ordinance No. 2846, or the "Bantay ASF sa Barangay." The movement of live hogs and pork products from neighboring municipalities into the areas of Cuyo and Magsaysay has also been prohibited in alignment with similar executive directives. "We have established boundary checkpoints, and at the points of entry, we have added foot baths so that those disembarking will step into the disinfectant. I've also sent additional disinfectants," Mangcucang said. He added that "in such cases, we will cordon off the area, even if we don't yet know the nature of the disease. Allowing it to spread could result in spillage." The municipalities of Cuyo and Magsaysay are located in close proximity to the Panay Islands in Western Visayas. This island group encompasses four primary provinces -- Aklan, Antique, Capiz, and Iloilo. In the Iloilo region, approximately 10 municipalities are currently designated within the red zone or the infected area due to the prevalence of ASF. Taking immediate action upon receiving reports is a top priority for them, said Mangcucang, as they are committed to preventing the entry of ASF into Palawan. He warned residents about the potential consequences of violating the ban on bringing live hogs and their products from ASF red zones, saying such actions could create a substantial predicament for Palawan, an island province. The PVO chief also urges those affected not to slaughter the pigs for meat sale to other islands. Instead, these pigs should be either incinerated or deeply buried to effectively halt the spread of the disease that caused their fatalities. In the current week, reports provided by some residents of the two towns indicate a succession of swine fatalities in the two municipalities, possibly linked to a disease

Source: Philippines News Agency