AVA and Veredus Laboratories launched the VereVet lab-on-chip application on 16 June 2015. With so many laboratory detections possible on one biochip, this application represents the first system in the world for simultaneous and rapid detection of multiple poultry pathogens.
These disease agents include the Newcastle Disease virus, Salmonella Pullorum, Salmonella Enteritidis, Campylobacter, and Avian Influenza (bird flu) virus.
The conventional molecular detection method generally takes three to five hours to test for one pathogen from one sample. The VereVet poultry 'lab-on-chip' is able to detect nine pathogens from one sample within three hours.
Typically, in Avian Influenza outbreaks, laboratories conduct intensive tests to identify the causative pathogen. This is followed by further testing to categorise the influenza virus strain. The VereVet poultry lab-on-chip is useful in such cases to provide a rapid result.
Emphasising the significance of the breakthrough, especially in view of the economic and trade impact of bird flu, Ms Tan Poh Hong, CEO of AVA, said: "Singapore is free from bird flu. However, it continues to plague other countries in the region, as well as other parts of the world. With the emergence of new strains, it may be a challenge to quickly identify the strain in question. The new lab-on-chip, capable of rapidly identifying multiple poultry pathogens in one sample, enables authorities to take appropriate action. This will, in turn, strengthen animal and public health for the region."
The launch of this lab-on-chip application was made possible by the collaborative efforts of the team of scientists from AVA and Veredus Laboratories, who began working on the project in 2010. Dr Huangfu Taoqi, Principal Scientist at the Animal Health Laboratory of AVA, led a team from AVA and Veredus Laboratories to successfully validate the performance of the application. Its efficacy in testing for the Avian Influenza virus and the Newcastle Disease virus was evaluated at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory. Scientific details were also presented at the 17th International Symposium of World Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians in Canada on 16 June 2015.
Avian Influenza (commonly known as bird flu) is a zoonotic disease that is endemic to the region. An outbreak of bird flu has significant impact on public health and food security. It also causes economic losses to farmers. There has been a rise in the number of bird flu cases in Europe and North America in the past months, forcing authorities to cull large numbers of poultry to control the disease.
Singapore is currently free from bird flu. AVA has precautionary measures in place to keep the disease out of Singapore. To ensure emergency preparedness in the case of a potential bird flu outbreak, regular exercises and trainings are organised to test our crisis management framework and operational readiness.
On 5-6 February 2015, AVA conducted a training session for 120 officers to enhance their familiarisation with our bird flu contingency plan. The session included briefings on various technical and operational aspects of the contingency plan.
Hands-on trainings on decontamination procedures, as well as on the proper donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE), were also carried out. These are important components that protect our officers against potentially harmful pathogens and prevent the spread of disease agents to other people or locations.