/ 17 January 2021

THE UNIVERSITY of the Philippines Los Baños and the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Animal Industry joined forces to further help prevent the spread of the African Swine Fever in the country.

Officials of DA-BAI visited UPLB to hold a dialogue with faculty members and researchers and chart the steps to be taken in order to manage ASF and strengthen the hog industry.

The UPLB team was headed by Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Jezie Acorda and Vice Chancellor for research and extension Dr. Merdelyn Lit.

Acorda and Lit is chair and vice chair, respectively, of the UPLB Technical Advisory and Working Group for the Surveillance, Diagnosis, Control, and Prevention of ASF, Avian Influenza, and other Economically Important Diseases.

“UPLB-TAWG is now firming up proposals for projects and activities that the university will undertake on surveillance, knowledge-attitude-practice assessment, risk assessment, and provision of laboratory services, as initially presented by Acorda in the dialogue,” UPLB said.

“It is also looking into possible activities to evaluate commercially available rapid test kits, using data analytics in decision-making, the use of therapeutics and nutritionals to prevent or slow down the spread of the virus, and recommend strategies for repopulation and protection of breeder stocks,” it added.

Dr. Leocadio Sebastian, chief of staff of the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, headed the DA team.

Sebastian reiterated how grave the situation of ASF is in the country and stressed the need for more appropriate strategies that the university can recommend to help protect the areas that are not affected yet, and at the same time, revive the areas that are already affected.

Meanwhile, ASF focal person of DA Dr. Samuel Castro said there has to be targeted communication, intensified surveillance, geotagging of animals and meat, intentional meat and product testing to stop the spread of ASF.

Castro stressed local government units must implement elevated responses to enhance communication of strict protocols and guidelines at the community level.

He also highlighted the need to conduct ASF vaccine trials and mandatory testing for every 21 days of farms that transport pigs for slaughter and to refocus the DA regional livestock budget towards ASF control.