The Department of Agriculture Western Visayas has acquired a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine for faster diagnosis of suspected African swine fever cases.
Dr. Jonic Natividad, chief of the DA 6 Regulatory Division, and ASF focal person, said yesterday that the acquisition of the machine will enable them to conduct diagnostic test in the region and no longer have to send samples to the Bureau of Animal Industry in Manila.
“This is for immediate testing of samples that will be gathered from the field and other products, like suspect meat products,” he said.
They have lined up samples for testing, including those confiscated by the Iloilo Provincial ASF Task Force on June 8.
The machine, priced at close to a million, was acquired through the quick response fund of DA 6 and was installed at the Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in May.
In addition to the acquisition of the machine, Natividad said the training on sample collection for barangay biosecurity officers in four provinces in the region will resume before the end of the month.
Of the six provinces in Western Visayas, only Antique and Aklan completed the sample collection training, spearheaded by the Agricultural Training Institute in Aklan.
The training was temporarily put on hold due to the surge in cases of coronavirus disease 2019 in Western Visayas in the past two weeks where some of the supposed trainees were identified as close contacts.
On June 28, they are expected to start with the training for BBOs in Capiz and on July 14 for Iloilo.
Still waiting for their schedules are Negros Occidental and Guimaras.
Currently, only 15 trainees per province are accepted, and those from considered high-risk barangays for ASF are prioritized.
“They serve as eyes and ears in the barangay. They are trained how to get samples,” he said.
Natividad added that they can easily complete the task should there is a need for massive simultaneous surveillance because there are people who are deployed down to the barangay level.
He said that Western Visayas remains free from ASF.
Meanwhile, the monitored animal infection in the municipality of Maayon in Capiz that was posted in a chat group on Facebook last week was a case of diamond skin disease, or a bacterial infection known as Erysipelas but it shows ASF-like symptoms.
He said that during their inspection on June 17, the swine was still alive and nearby animal stocks are in good condition.
“It’s a bacterial infection due to a sanitation problem,” he said, adding that the swine was injected with antibiotics and blood samples were taken for laboratory test.*PNA