A portable device for detecting viral infections in pigs has been created

Diseases of pigs and other livestock are strongly reflected in agriculture – such animals are often not allowed to be eaten, they die, without giving any benefit to farmers. In other words, diseases of pigs and other livestock cause serious problems in agriculture. To solve the problem of diagnosis, and therefore faster response and treatment in animals, the EU-funded SWINOSTICS project created a portable diagnostic device for detecting viral diseases of pigs in just a few minutes. It works through an Android app. This was reported by the project page on the European Commission.

After an initial outbreak, laboratory confirmation of an etiological infectious agent may take several weeks or even months. Consequently, the development of fast and accurate diagnostic methods is crucial to achieve effective control of infectious diseases and to limit serious biophysical and socio-economic consequences.

The product is intended for six viruses: African swine fever virus, swine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus, swine flu virus – strain H1N1, porcine parvovirus, swine circovirus, and classical swine fever virus.

The device will use swine oral fluid samples as the primary method, although it will be compatible with other types of samples, such as feces, blood smears, or from the nose. Using oral fluids as the primary sample reduces the time required for analysis and simplifies sample collection, while also allowing wild boar samples to be collected.

A diagnostic device developed by SWINOSTICS partners uses advanced biosensor and photonics technologies to combat emerging and endemic viruses causing epidemics in pig farms in Europe. This will provide an immediate farm-level threat assessment with the analytical quality of commercial and institutional laboratories.

The device is portable and gives results in less than 15 minutes for 4-5 samples at a time, which makes it very suitable for use in the field. The modular design of the device will allow in the future to change, if necessary, an increase in capacity.

Within two years, as part of a field diagnostic project for pig breeding, the SWINOSTICS team completed the first phase of integration testing. The purpose of this was to verify that all the modules of the device work flawlessly in combination with each other and to fix various problems that could affect the overall functionality of the device.

SWINOSTICS prototype modules include a sample delivery and liquid handling module, which includes transferring the sample and other liquids through the sensors and, finally, a waste tank, a main processing, and communication module that controls all work, an optical analysis module that reads the sensor output as well as a temperature conditioning module that maintains a constant temperature in critical parts of the device. The Android application has also been developed to control the entire operation of the device through a tablet or mobile phone. This is actually the main user interface for the device.

An updated version of all device modules, using feedback from the first stage of integration tests, is currently under implementation. Updated modules will be used for further testing and full laboratory verification of the device using reference samples before moving on to the field.

The SWINOSTICS project (a set of tools for the field diagnosis of pig diseases) will be completed in April 2021. By promoting early diagnosis during outbreaks of infectious diseases, it will help speed up the decision-making process and prevent the further spread of epidemics in pig farms.