Since June last year, the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) Mindanao has been working on detecting the presence of ASF virus in the region, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office XI (DA RFO XI) and Hog Farmers of Davao, Inc. (HogFADI). So far, several pig samples from different hog farms have tested positive for the virus.
Through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) among the collaborating agencies, processing of samples for ASF virus detection via the Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) of PGC Mindanao has been accommodated since last year.
A total of 2,174 pig samples from different hog farms were tested for the virus last year. Using the RT-PCR of PGC Mindanao, 85 samples were detected positive for ASF virus. This year, the surveillance continues as the MOA for the project is in the process of renewal. The collection of pig samples from different hog farms in the region is regularly delivered by DA RFO XI to the center for surveillance.
In his letter addressed to UP Mindanao Chancellor Dr. Larry N. Digal, Engr. Ricardo Oñate Jr, Regional Director of DA RFO XI, said that with the continuing incidences of the virus in several areas in the region, the collaboration would fast-track the control of the ASF diseases and also facilitate food supply to areas in need of pork products from certified ASF-free hog farms.
During an interview, Dr. Lyre Anni Murao, PGC Mindanao Director, also emphasized the importance of surveillance tools such as the RT-PCR for the detection of the virus among hogs. PGC Mindanao has been an Accredited Laboratory Testing Facility for African swine fever by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) since last year.
While working on the surveillance of the ASF virus in pig samples in the region, the center is also set to sequence this June the genome of SARS-CoV-2 samples from different laboratories in Mindanao to detect presence of COVID-19 variants. This project is in collaboration with Accessible Genomics, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, and the University of Glasgow.
As the first-ever genomics facility in Mindanao, PGC Mindanao aims to conduct advance and high throughput tests in Mindanao to help fast-track the response in managing and controlling the onslaught of the current livestock crisis and the pandemic.
Article by Janessa V. Villota, Information Officer I, Philippine Genome Center Mindanao, UP Mindanao