Project to detect, treat animal diseases pushed

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has given support for a local project that aims to provide the agri-fishery sector with access to cutting-edge technologies that can accurately detect and effectively manage, control and contain emerging animal diseases.

In a statement on Monday, the DA said Agriculture Secretary William Dar had signed a memorandum of agreement with the Pampanga State Agricultural University (PSAU), in Magalang, Pampanga, last Friday for the project titled “DNA Analysis for Accurate Diagnosis of Emerging Deadly Viruses among Agri-fisheries of Central Luzon.”

“The launch of this project is both timely and relevant, as it marks a new milestone in our efforts to boost our capacity to accurately detect and effectively manage emerging animal diseases, including that of transboundary diseases, here in Central Luzon and nearby regions,” Dar said.

“Supporting this project can help us in a big way in the future. Let us tap the best of molecular science and all biotechnology tools available for the very problems we have in the country. Let us not waste time,” he added.

For its part, the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) has provided P6.4-million
funding, which will be utilized to provide information that can be used by drug manufacturing industries to build custom design vaccines that specifically target the viral strains present in a locale.

Using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and DNA sequencing, the project will determine the true-to-type species or genotypes on the causative agent of emerging deadly viruses, including African swine fever (ASF), new castle disease, avian flu, tilapia lake virus and white spot syndrome virus; and measure disease occurrence, reduction and severity, as well as analyze their transmission.

Commending PSAU’s significant contributions in managing the problem in ASF in Central Luzon, Dar challenged the university, as part of the government’s pursuit to continually develop and enhance its capacities in research and development.

The DA chief also cited the value of providing scientists with necessary equipment and tools to address the very problems that the agri-fishery sector is facing.

He then instructed DA-BAR and PSAU to reassess the availability and capacities of various animal disease diagnostics research facilities in effectively addressing and managing diseases not only in livestock, but also in fisheries.

“Enhance your capacity through this existing facility because we need to start working now for that potential pandemic that may come from zoonotic animal diseases. If you have the best minds, the younger generation who has the right training, then you are ready and we shall be able to solve any problems along those issues of transboundary animal diseases,” Dar said.

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