ASF testing capacity under strain as disease spreads

smuggled pork ASF 100319 - ASF testing capacity under strain as disease spreadsPHILSTAR

BLOOD SAMPLE testing for African Swine Fever (ASF) is encountering bottlenecks at the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) national office because of limited capacity or supply at regional laboratories, the bureau’s director said.

BAI Director Ronnie D. Domingo told reporters Wednesday that the referrals from the regions often overwhelm the national laboratory’s processing capacity of about 600 samples a day.

Ang sabi sa akin ng laboratory ang (that their) capacity nila mga 600 samples every day (The laboratory told me that it can process about 600 samples a day)… Kung biglang dumating yung isang tambak mula sa probinsya (If a large volume of samples suddenly arrives),” the national laboratory has to adjust, he said.

Confirming the presence of ASF usually takes 10 hours, but due to the volume of samples, some results may take two to three days before release, he said.

The ability to test blood samples efficiently is becoming more critical with the spread of ASF, which could soon include another town in Plaridel, Bulacan.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has conducted tests in Barangay Sipat, Plaridel, after a pig farmer reported unusual hog deaths in the area on Oct. 2. Mr. Domingo has yet to confirm the results of testing on Plaridel blood samples.

The DA has confirmed ASF in 20 locations. The first cases surfaced in Rodriguez and Antipolo Rizal, Guiguinto, Bulacan, and various locations in Quezon City, Pangasinan and Pampanga.

The number of hogs culled has surpassed 20,000 head as of Oct. 1, which is 0.15% of the total population.

The Crisis Management Task Force on Swine said in a bulletin on Wednesday that about 12,000 head of swine have tested positive for ASF.

The suspicion of ASF triggers the so-called 1-7-10 protocol, which calls for the cull of all hogs within a one-kilometer radius as well as the disinfection of all farms. The seven-kilometer radius is declared a surveillance area, subject to testing and sampling, while movement of hogs is restricted in the 10-kilometer ring. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang

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