SROS extends testing capabilities to African Swine Fever

The Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (S.R.O.S) now has the capabilities to examine samples for the African Swine Fever (A.S.F).

This was confirmed in a statement issued by S.R.O.S on Tuesday.

The viral disease that is know to contagiously affect pigs is known to have a great impact on the pig industries worldwide and has a high mortality rate once pigs are infected with it.

It can be transferred in pig feed, feed components, fresh and frozen pork and processed pork products.

“Adding onto its capacity and ability for COVID-19 diagnostics testing, SROS is now extending that testing capability and technical service to test for African Swine Fever (ASF),” statement issued.

“In the absence of vaccines, monitoring and control of ASF by diagnostic methods are crucial components of a control program.”

The preferred PCR-based diagnostic testing for ASF detection is designed to identify the virus by detecting its DNA, rather than antibodies that are generated against it, allowing earlier detection of the virus compared to other diagnostic methods.

The ability follows the organisation’s capabilities to conduct tests for the Covid-19 made possible by a donation of 2,000 test kits and a Real Time-quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-qPCR) equipment.

“The financial assistance from UNDP, UNICEF and the Government of Samoa that equipped SROS with Real Time – quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-qPCR) for COVID-19 diagnostics, the same equipment (together with ASF specific consumables and test kits) has enabled SROS carry out ASF molecular diagnostics as well.“

The PCR method is the preferred detection technology now in use for the ASF outbreak currently affecting China and other countries of the world. The equipment is state of the art and a new generation of RT-qPCR. 

It was procured together with much needed consumables from Thermo Fisher Scientific Company at their distributors located in New Zealand and Australia. 

The ThermoFisher ASF detection real-time PCR workflow passed the stringent performance and validation assessment protocol which ensures the validity and reliability of test results and reports.

Three days intensive refresher training was conducted online for SROS scientists by experts of ThermoFisher Scientific. 

The training comprised both theory and practical, with an overall objective of making sure that SROS scientists are fully trained in the equipment’s safe handling and thoroughly understand the ASF PCR protocol involved. 

With the RT-qPCR now on site and the availability of the trained competent scientists, SROS has the capacity to do molecular diagnostic tests for ASF virus.

The Government of Samoa acknowledges with great appreciation UNDP and UNICEF for their generous support and commitment in strengthening Samoa’s ASF virus response through SROS.

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