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DA to Seek FMD-free Certification for Luzon

by 5m Editor
30 December 2008, at 8:29am

THE PHILIPPINES - The Department of Agriculture (DA) will submit documents to world animal health authorities to have Luzon certified as free of the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and lead to the declaration of the Philippines as an FMD-free country.

Luzon is the only area in the country that has not yet been declared by the Office Internationale des Epizooties (OIE) or World Organization for Animal Health as FMD-free, Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) officials said.

BAI Director Davinio Catbagan said that OIE already declared as FMD-free the entire Mindanao in May 2001, and Masbate, Palawan, and the entire Visayas in the same month the following year.

Mr Catbagan said the DA is confident that the issue on the Ebola Reston virus, which was earlier detected in a few hogs in two swine farms in Luzon, would not affect the Philippines’ bid to secure a clean bill of health from the OIE, considering that the government has been fully transparent and decisive in dealing with this animal health concern.

"We have exerted extra efforts to make sure that we deal with the Reston issue in a transparent and responsible manner, which is why DA is optimistic that the OIE will act positively on our application for FMD-free status," Catbagan said.

DA acted on the Reston case by placing the two affected farms under quarantine, according to Manila Bulletin Online.

As an additional precaution, the farm handlers and the butchers in the slaughterhouses where the animals are usually brought, were tested, for the non-pathogenic virus.

All the tests conducted on human samples yielded negative for the presence of the Reston virus, Mr Catbagan said.

DA is continuously monitoring the movement of animals and pork meat and has imposed stringent requirements in the issuance of health certifications on animal shipments, he said.

In a report to Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, Catbagan said DA aims to secure OIE certification for most of Luzon as FMD-free "without vaccination," and the regions of Central Luzon and Calabarzon (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon) as FMD-free areas with vaccination.

Mr Catbagan pointed out that the Philippines has not had an FMD outbreak in nearly three years.

"Our papers are complete so we are now looking at the possibility of submitting our application to certify Luzon as FMD-free as well depending on the timetable of the OIE," he said.

He said BAI would submit the paper requirements next month, in time for the meeting of the OIE’s Scientific Commission within the first two months of next year.

The last case of FMD was reported in Lucban, Quezon on 28 December, 2005.

FMD is a highly contagious viral disease that strikes cloven-hoofed animals.

Reildrin Morales, the deputy head of the FMD National Task Force, said the OIE has asked the government on sanitary checks on swill feeding in backyard farms. Most of backyard hog farmers who use swill either cook it or just add it to livestock feeds, he noted.

"They thought that most hogs from backyard farms feed on swill so we conducted a national survey to scientifically answer their questions," Morales said.

Backyard farming accounts for 73 projects of the country’s hog production.

Morales said the OIE also asked the BAI about controls on hog transport between areas where vaccination is practiced and the areas that are less stringent on this requirement.

Further Reading

- Find out more information on Foot-and-Mouth Disease by clicking here.