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DA to mass-produce new test kits for ASF February

Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar said that, starting next month, the rapid test kits developed by the Central Luzon State University for African swine fever (ASF) would be mass-produced.

“We finally got results for the development of rapid test kits in CLSU, which we funded. This February, we will be mass-producing it for our monitoring and surveillance,” Dar said in a virtual presser.

He said hogs would be tested even without showing symptoms of ASF.

“Hog raisers will benefit from the rapid test kits,” Dar said, adding that some of the industry players have opted not to raise their average number of hogs due to the threat of ASF, resulting in the shortage of pork supply in the market.

He said the rapid test kits developed by the state university would hasten the surveillance and monitoring operations of the DA’s Bureau of Animal and Industry and ASF-affected local government units.

The rapid test kits will render results within an hour or less, and will be much cheaper, the DA said.

Dar said his department would spend some P80 million for the development and mass production of Filipino-made rapid test kits.

“We are allocating an initial P80 million through the DA National Livestock Program and BAI to mass-produce and distribute to LGUs the test kit, called ‘ASFV Nanogold Biosensor’,” he said.

The budget for the Bantay ASF sa Barangay program will be provided by the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research to augment the mass production of test kits in partnership with other interested private firms and state universities and colleges.

“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,” Dar added.

Dr. Clarissa Yvonne Domingo, professor of CLSU’s College of Veterinary Science, developed the rapid test kits in collaboration with the DA-BAI, noting that these are easy to use and can differentiate the ASF virus from hog cholera and other swine-related viruses.

The DA said the rapid test kits use nucleic acid-based tests.

They have a built-in DNA extraction and molecular amplification process that uses primers or markers, whose gene sequence was designed from the P72 gene of the ASF virus isolated from the province of Rizal.

“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 department said.

The ASF test kit, which comes with all the consumables, costs P3,500, good for 10 samples at P350 per sample. To ensure efficacy, the test kits were tested on surface swabs taken from nipple drinkers, walls, railings, floors, and pig ways of barns, water samples of farms, ASF contaminated floor sweepings and feeds, saliva, nasal swabs, and feces of pigs, processed, fresh, and canned meat that were confiscated at the airport, and domestic flies that touched dead carcasses.*PNA

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