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Thailand: Digital Solutions for Food Security and Animal Health

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African swine fever (ASF) outbreaks have become a concern in Thailand. The initial case involving three infected pigs was reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in 2022. Subsequent outbreaks across various provinces led to the culling of a significant pig population, significantly affecting the country’s pig farming industry and impacting numerous smallholders.

In the face of African swine fever (ASF), a highly contagious and lethal disease ravaging pig populations globally, Thailand’s BIOTEC-NSTDA has risen to the challenge with a game-changing digital technology: the PigXY-AMP diagnostic test. This one-step colourimetric LAMP kit, developed as a preparedness measure against ASF outbreaks, offers a cost-effective, user-friendly, and rapid solution for early detection, marking a significant advancement in the fight against this devastating disease.

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African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease affecting both domestic and wild pigs. A large, double-stranded DNA virus causes it in the Asfarviridae family. The disease has a high mortality rate in domestic pigs, and some isolates can cause hemorrhagic fever.

In response, the government has implemented several measures to control the virus’s spread. These comprehensive measures include heightened biosecurity protocols, increased surveillance and monitoring of pig populations, and strategic culling of infected animals to prevent further transmission. Additionally, public awareness campaigns and education initiatives have been deployed to inform and engage stakeholders, including farmers and the broader community, in adhering to biosecurity measures.

The challenges posed by ASF in Thailand are not isolated but rather part of a larger regional issue. The disease has affected several countries across Asia, creating a complex and interconnected challenge for the region. The transboundary nature of ASF emphasises the need for collaborative efforts, information sharing, and coordinated strategies among nations to combat and manage the disease effectively.

While traditional real-time PCR testing remains the gold standard for ASF detection, its high cost (THB 1000-1500/sample) often limits its widespread use. PigXY-AMP addresses this crucial challenge by providing comparable sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy at a significantly lower cost. This not only saves farmers money but also increases accessibility, particularly in resource-constrained settings.

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The user-friendliness of PigXY-AMP is another key advantage. Unlike PCR, which requires specialised equipment and trained personnel, PigXY-AMP can be easily used by farmers and animal health workers directly in the field. The included rapid DNA extraction reagent further simplifies the process, reducing the time needed to obtain results to a mere 70 minutes. This swiftness in diagnosis allows for quicker decision-making and intervention, ultimately preventing outbreaks and saving lives.

The digital technology aspect of PigXY-AMP extends beyond the kit itself. The technology was successfully transferred to M G Pharma, a Thai animal health company, for commercial production and distribution. This ensures wider availability and accessibility of the test throughout Thailand and potentially beyond. Furthermore, the registration of PigXY-AMP as a medical device with the Thai Food and Drug Administration is underway, paving the way for its official recognition and adoption within the veterinary sector.

The recognition of PigXY-AMP’s significance extends beyond Thailand’s borders. The test was recently awarded the prestigious 2023 NRCT Invention Award by the National Research Council of Thailand, highlighting its innovative potential and impact on the global fight against ASF.

PigXY-AMP stands as a testament to the power of digital technology in tackling agricultural challenges. Ultimately, PigXY-AMP is more than just a diagnostic test. It represents a paradigm shift in the way we approach disease control. PigXY-AMP’s affordability, ease of use, and rapid results make it a valuable tool for farmers, veterinarians, and policymakers worldwide.

NTSD envisions a comprehensive integration of PigXY-AMP into Thailand’s agricultural landscape, fostering a proactive and resilient disease control strategy. By leveraging digital technology, Thailand can develop innovative solutions that are accessible, affordable, and effective, paving the way for a healthier and more sustainable future for agriculture.


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