AGRICULTURE Secretary William D. Dar said P80 million has been allocated for the development and mass production of test kits for the detection of African Swine Fever (ASF).

The test kits, which go by the name ASFV Nanogold Biosensor, promise rapid results. The developer was Clarissa Yvonne J. Domingo of Central Luzon State University, in collaboration with the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI).

“With this development, BAI personnel and veterinarians of local government units can now administer the kit 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 economically,” Mr. Dar said.

The rapid test kits use a nucleic acid-based test that can detect the virus and differentiate it from hog cholera and other swine-related viruses.

It can detect the disease via the surface swabbing of pig barns and delivery trucks, saliva and nasal swabs, feces, water, semen, feed, aspirated whole blood or blood-soaked swabs, and domestic flies.

“We can even have these test kits on standby at the port of entry for a quick sampling of the meat products entering the country,” Mr. Dar said.

According to Mr. Dar, the ASF test kits cost P350, but can be as cheap as P70 in pooled testing of five surface swabs, saliva, or feces from the same pig farm.

The test kit has been tested at 32 commercial and nine backyard farms in Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan, and Nueva Ecija.

BAI offers free ASF testing while private laboratories charge around P3,000 per test.

Mr. Dar said the Department of Agriculture will arrange with Vietnam a field test in the Philippines after learning that the Vietnamese had developed an ASF vaccine.

ASF is a severe and highly contagious hemorrhagic viral disease in pigs that poses no health risks to humans. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave