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Disease outbreaks in animals affect human health and welfare particularly in the global agricultural economy. The direct effect of transboundary animal diseases (TADs) in agriculture and public health triggers a serious limitation to the export of living animals and their products. Moreover, it also negatively impacts on international trade that encompasses food security and high socioeconomic impact on agricultural exporting nations.
Majority of these TADs are of viral origin. In the early 1980s, the field of diagnostic virology was boosted with two other major developments: (1) the birth of various immunoassays and (2) the invention of polymerase chain reaction or PCR. This was followed by the development of a very wide range of serological and molecular detection techniques, which rapidly evolved to constitute the mainstream approaches of both laboratory research and the clinical diagnosis of viruses. However, nanotechnology was only applied to virus detection in 1997 when gold nanoparticles were employed for the detection of single-copy human papillomavirus. Nanotechnology has recently come to represent one of the most outstanding trends in virus detection and diagnosis.
This paper focuses on the development of rapid test kits for animals aimed at abating the high mortality losses brought about by insufficient disease surveillance and diagnostic systems and services. These are envisioned to improve investigation, diagnosis, and technical support for the control of animal diseases, particularly, in the Philippines. The author supervised projects that developed rapid test kits for important swine and poultry diseases, four of which were TADs. These rapid test kits detect the infectious antigen or the field virus responsible for the disease and not the virus used in modified live vaccines. The author’s projects developed dry RT-LAMP kits for ND, CSF, and PRRS viruses. These kits have a feature that significantly enhanced their specificity—the ability to differentiate infected from vaccinated animals.
The latest test kit developed that combined two technologies was the ASFV Nanogold Biosensor test kit. It is very versatile and can be a tool for environmental monitoring of the pathogen (EMP) for biosecurity profiling of a farm before repopulation. This is in line with the Philippine Department of Agriculture’s hog repopulation program. All these rapid test kits are now manufactured and commercialized by a private company that offers diagnostic services using the test kits. It markets the kits to veterinary practitioners, commercial farm owners who would like to set up their own laboratory inside the farm, entrepreneurs who would like to venture into distributing the test kits, suppliers of disinfectants and vaccines, and animal health researchers (thesis students) in the academe. Those who prefer to buy and use the kits by themselves are provided with a short training by the company. To safeguard the spread of TADs, rapid sensitive screening tests should be in place for early detection toward timely implementation of prevention and control measures. Furthermore, the spread of TADs can be contained with continuous research and development for rapid sensitive tests.