GUIGUINTO, Bulacan, Philippines—The hog cholera or swine flu struck backyard piggery farms in 20 of 24 towns in Bulacan but officials assured that commercial farms, which supply the pork demands in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, remained unaffected.
Felipe Bartolome, provincial veterinarian, said the swine flu virus did not affect backyard farms in upper mountainous towns of Norzagaray, Angat, Doña Remedios Trinidad and the City of San Jose del Monte.
He said 3,150 hogs and piglets from 194 backyard farms in 55 villages in 18 towns and two cities in the province were affected and 160 of them were reported to have died.
He said, however, the mortality rate remained low because the commercial farms in Bulacan, which comprise 80 percent of the hog industry, were free of swine flu.
Bulacan, one of the largest sources of pork products, has about 300 hog and swine farms. The province supplies most of the meat needs of Metro Manila.
Acting Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado called on the public not to be alarmed, saying that the cases were “due to the rainy season.”
He said they have put up checkpoints in key areas in the province to ensure that contaminated meat will not reach public markets.
“Only 26 percent of the more one million animals have been sick,” he said.
Gladys Sta. Rita, provincial administrator, said a crisis management team is making sure that “no contaminated meat or infected swine shall be shipped out of the farms and pig pens.”
Miguelito Hizon, president of commercial farm associations in Bulacan, said their animals are not affected by the swine flu because they conduct regular monthly vaccinations on their animals and observe sanitation procedures.
On Thursday, officials here buried 46 piglets, six fatteners and two dogs which were believed to have died of hog cholera this week.
The decomposing carcasses of the animals were dumped in an irrigation canal in Barangay Tiaong here.
Bartolome said municipal agriculture officers had been ordered to closely monitor backyard farms and to properly dispose of dead animals.
“Hog raisers should observe bio-security measures and sanitary procedures. Otherwise the disease will spread,” he said. Carmela Reyes, Inquirer Central Luzon