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New rapid test detects African swine fever sooner

Taiwanese biotech company Excelsior Bio-System Inc. says it has developed a rapid test kit to detect African swine fever (ASF).

veterinarian-examining-pigs-on-farm
RGtimeline | iStockPhoto.com

Taiwanese biotech company Excelsior Bio-System Inc. says it has developed a rapid test kit to detect African swine fever (ASF).

According to reports, the test can diagnose in 10 minutes if a live hog is infected with ASF, even if it is still in the incubation period, as early as 14 days after a hog is infected. The test detects the presence of antibodies against the ASF protein p30.

A previously developed test kit from a Spanish company can detect the presence of antibodies against the ASF protein p72, which is generated later in the development of the disease, so the Taiwanese test kit works earlier, according to a company executive.

The test only works on live animals and does not need to be conducted in a laboratory environment. Taiwan’s government says there are no plans to use the test kit there because the country has not had any outbreaks of the disease.

No outbreaks in Taiwan

Taiwanese officials have said their priority is keeping out pork brought in from affected countries. Anyone discovered attempting to bring in pork products from an area affected by ASF faces stiff fines. Taiwan’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine has increased searches of travelers’ luggage at airports and seaports to stop pork products from entering its borders.

ASF has been spreading throughout Asia since summer 2018 and has resulted in the death or culling of thousands of animals. Several pig carcasses found on beaches in Taiwan – believed to have floated from China – have tested positive for the disease in recent months.

The disease does not affect humans.

In November 2018, Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture said it found a gene that was 100 percent similar to the ASF in China in a Shuanghui Crispy Sausage made by WH Group subsidiary Henan Shuanghui Investment and Development. The sausage was one of 306 meat products smuggled into Taiwan between August and October. But WH Group said it has not found the disease in any of its products sold on China’s mainland.

View our continuing coverage of the African swine fever outbreak.

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