(PNA file photo)

MANILA – A mobile laboratory for the detection of the African swine fever (ASF) is currently being developed and will be deployed in Mindanao, an official of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said Wednesday.

"The BioAssets Corporation is setting up a high containment laboratory unit that will be deployed in Mindanao. This laboratory will help veterinarians and farmers to have the diagnostics, so they could immediately respond to a disease outbreak," DOST Undersecretary Rowena Guevara said in a public briefing.

This project of the BioAssets Corporation was funded by the DOST for PHP15.95 million.

Guevara pointed out that detecting the ASF fast and having an accessible laboratory would lessen the number of pigs that would have to be killed.

"At present, when you need to test a suspected ASF case, you would get a sample and bring it to a laboratory. We will do it the other way -- the laboratory will go to where there are suspected ASF cases," she said.

"Alam naman natin ang mga patakaran ng Department of Agriculture (DA) tungkol dito sa ASF, kaya kung makaka-respond kaagad itong laboratory, mas mapapabilis ang aksiyon at mas kaunti na lang ang ating mga kailangang patayin na mga baboy (We know the DA's rules with regard to ASF, so a mobile laboratory would hasten the response and would lessen the number of pigs to be killed)," she said.

Guevara said she was referring to the DA's rule that once ASF was detected, all the other pigs within a one-kilometer distance should be culled. "If there will be a detection kit, there will be no need to kill all the other pigs. You could detect which among them is infected," she said.

Guevara said there are currently two ASF detection kits. One is the ASFV Nanogold which is still being developed and needs to be registered. The other one was made by a DOST-attached agency.

The latter is based on a real-time polymerase chain reaction or PCR, and could be used for certification, according to Guevara.

The official said the ASF really made the public feel the increasing prices of pork. "This is why our scientists wanted to develop (an ASF) diagnostic kit, and they would also want to develop a vaccine against ASF," she said. (PNA)