MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it initially set aside P80 million for the production of locally produced test kits that can detect African swine fever (ASF) on livestock.
In a statement this weekend, the DA said the kits, called “ASFV Nanogold Biosensor” and developed by Clarissa Yvonne Domingo of the Central Luzon State University, can identify and differentiate ASF from hog cholera and other swine-related viruses.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the kit can be used for “biosecurity measures, profiling of farms for repopulation, and surveillance and monitoring activities, at a much faster rate right at the so-called ‘ground-zero’ and more economical.”
“We can even have these test kits on standby at the port of entries for a quick sampling of the meat products entering the country,” he added.
The department assured that the test kits’ results showed “high accuracy and detection rate” as they were tested in 32 commercial and 9 backyard farms in Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan, and Nueva Ecija.
“It can detect the presence of ASF even through surface swabbing of pig barns and delivery trucks, saliva, and nasal swabs, feces, water, semen, feeds, aspirated whole blood, or blood-soaked swabs, and even domestic flies,” the DA said.
Testing is free with the Bureau of Animal Industry while private laboratories charge P3,000 per test, according to the department.
“Results of BAI laboratory tests for priority areas can be obtained within the day, but analysis usually takes two working days,” the agency said.
The DA said the 10-sample test kit costs P3,500, with each sample priced at P350. But through pooled testing of 5 surface swabs, saliva, or feces from the same pen or farm, the cost could be reduced to P70 per sample.
Meanwhile, Dar ordered his agency to coordinate with their Vietnamese counterparts for the clinical and field test in the Philippines of the ASF vaccine developed by Hanoi.
As of December, the country has culled at least 400,000 pigs since the ASF outbreak started in August 2019, according to the DA.