By Stephanie Sevillano

CURBING ANTHRAX. Agriculture Assistant Secretary Constante Dante Palabrica assures of free vaccination for animals to prevent spread of anthrax in the country on Monday (April 1, 2024). He also urged local farmers to immediately report suspected cases to provincial and municipal veterinarians. (Screengrab)

MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) assured full monitoring and free vaccinations to livestock animals against the threat of anthrax.

This came amid a reported outbreak of anthrax in Laos, with around 50 suspected cases in humans.

In an interview Monday, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Constante Dante Palabrica said measures are in place to protect the livestock industry in the country.

“Walang dapat ipangamba dahil handa ang Department of Agriculture, dahil hindi naman natutulog, mayroon tayong mga bakuna, very active ang Bureau of Animal Industry (There’s no need to worry because the Department of Agriculture is ready, because [we’re] not sleeping, the Bureau of Animal Industry is very active),” he said.

Farmers were then advised to immediately report suspected cases to local veterinarians in case symptoms are monitored.

Symptoms in affected animals include loss of appetite, fever, and occurrence of vesicles, among others.

“Our government gives a free test on this. Even the anthrax vaccine is given, lahat ito (all of these are) subsidized by the Department of Agriculture… I see that reporting is the key here. Now that lumabas ang balitang iyan (Since the news has been released), the Department of Agriculture is now hyperactive,” Palabrica said.

Palabrica also urged the public to maintain vigilance in consuming suspected infected animals to avoid human transmission.

According to the World Health Organization, transmission to humans may be through either exposure from infected animals or consumption of contaminated products.

Palabrica noted that it is harder to monitor infections when symptomatic livestock are already disposed of in markets.

“Huwag nilang kakatayin (Don’t slaughter it). As I said zoonotic pwedeng ilipat sa tao, tumawag sa beterinaryo para ma-check. Kasi mahirap naman na hindi lang kumain iyong baka anthrax na kaagad, kailangan ng (it can be transmitted to humans, call the veterinarians to check. It’s also hard to conclude that it’s already a case of anthrax just because the cow did not eat, we need) scientific and science-based analysis,” he said.

In case an animal turns out to be positive following testing for anthrax, it shall be isolated and condemned to prevent further spread. (PNA)