July 5, 2005
Philippines advocating a more aggressive approach to hog cholera in the region
Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary for Livestock and Fisheries Cesar Drilon on Wednesday urged top officials of the World Animal Health Organization, Paris-based Office International des Epizooties (OIE), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the animal health officials of Asia, for collaborative efforts against classical swine fever or hog cholera, which is considered a major cause of deaths among pigs.
The Philippines recently hosted the joint FAO-OIE-JICA regional workshop on classical swine fever (CSF) which was participated in by top officials of these lead international bodies as well as animal health chiefs from Singapore, Brunei, Korea, Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan.
Hog cholera has been classified by the OIE as List A disease, meaning it poses a barrier to animal trade, highly infectious and spreads rapidly. Hog cholera is endemic in the Philippines and Asia and has been identified as the major cause of pig mortality with approximately 40 percent deaths attributed to it. The Philippines is currently aiming to be free of the disease by 2012.
It is estimated that some 12.57 million pigs are at risk of being contaminated by this virus, with easily one million heads or eight percent of the swine population worth about P3 billion (US$53.5 million) lost yearly to hog cholera.
Between 1997 and 2004, the number of hog cholera cases dropped sharply from about 11,000 in 1997 with 6,000 deaths to less than 1,000 cases but still with a higher mortality of 1,800 pigs. Last year, hog cholera cases reached 1,055 but deaths stood at 1,852 pigs. The data shows that transfer of the deadly virus still has a long way to be contained.
In 2002, the Philippines launched the HC or CSF Eradication Program which included massive vaccination, active surveillance, expansion of protected zone, designation of infected areas that were defined by the results of serological surveys; the determination of herd immunity levels; legislative action from Congress and ordinances of local government units and monitoring of protected zones that have discontinued vaccination. The implementation phase is from 2003 to 2007.
Molina said BAI has been accrediting farms that are hog cholera free with vaccination. Accreditation criteria include no clinical case or outbreak for at least a year; no field virus isolated from the farm; no sero conversion of sentinel animals or any other validated means to distinguish between vaccinated and infected pigs; and serological monitoring system in place for at least six months to demonstrate absence of infection within a population of domestic pigs six months to one year old.