A recently released, quick and easy-to-use test to detect African swine fever has entered the marketplace. In order to detect whether pigs have this deadly virus, what used to take hours and a lot of expertise now takes less than 20 minutes and requires no experience.


Dr. Juergen Richt, of the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, conducted independent clinical studies to verify the effectiveness of PenCheck for Silver Lake Research Corporation in California.


"He’s a world-renowned researcher in swine virus," said Erik Serrao, a vice president at Silver Lake Research. "He manages one of the only labs in the world that is certified to study highly contagious large animals."


Silver Lake Research Corporation manufactures PenCheck, the only low-cost rapid African swine fever test with accuracy rates greater than 95%. This test can be administered pen-side.


Other than by using this new product, the only reliable method that could screen for this disease, Serrao said, was a large, expensive machine that was time consuming and required expertise from the person conducting the exam.


"African swine fever is spreading out of control in some areas. The virus kills pigs in about a week of infection, and it is highly contagious," Serrao said. "PenCheck can help save millions of pigs around the world. We wanted to make it as easy as possible to test and remove any infected animals to prevent further damage."


Last summer, as the disease was spreading, Silver Lake Research decided to develop a cost-efficient test for the devastating virus.


"This is the only rapid test that has been field validated as highly accurate," Serrao said.


Richt conducted an independent clinical validation study to determine the accuracy of PenCheck. The sensitivity of the test was 95%, with a specificity of more than 99%. In the sensitivity tests, the test correctly identified 21 out of 22 pigs with moderate to severe symptoms of African swine fever. In the specificity tests, the test determined that 143 of the 144 virus-free pigs did not have the disease.


This early detection exam provides an effective and inexpensive monitoring program for swine populations. By mixing a few drops of blood with water, the screening is simple to administer and may take place in any environment, including the pen.


"It can help signal the swine industry and the government if we have this kind of disease coming to our shores," Richt said. "It protects the consumer."


By having cooperation between private industry, government and academia, Richt said, new diseases, tests and vaccines can be discovered.


"At the end," Richt said, "it benefits the taxpayer if we have safe, healthy animals that support safe, healthy meats."


To find out more information about the test, visit www.penchecktest.com.