THE Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) said a test kit for African Swine Fever (ASF) co-developed with Central Luzon State University has become available, promising more rapid detection of the disease in hogs suspected of being ill.

BAI Director Ronnie D. Domingo told reporters previous efforts to identify ASF cases had been hampered by bottlenecks at government laboratories, adding that the new test kit was developed over six to 10 months, costs P300, a tenth of the price of the old one, and can return a result in under an hour.

The new kit was pilot-tested two weeks ago and “have been accurate and very satisfactory,” Mr. Domingo said.

The rapid confirmation and low cost means the kits can be widely distributed to other government agencies and hog traders, providing earlier warning of disease detection.

“We have conducted pilot tests in areas in Cebu; with Davao and Bicol regions to follow,” Mr. Domingo said.

The Department of Agriculture released P10 million to BAI for production, distribution, and training to use the test kits.

Secretary William D. Dar told a House committee recently that as of March 2, ASF has been confirmed in 625 barangays across eight regions. As a precaution, 237,406 animals have been culled.

He called for local government units to take the lead as “first responders” in efforts to contain ASF and to prevent further spread of the disease. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave