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Monday 24th October 2016

Plans for rapid bird flu testing kit

14th August 2008

Scientists in the UK say they are developing a portable testing machine that will detect cases of bird flu in two hours.


At present, because of the need for laboratory tests, it takes up to seven days before scientists can identify the different strains of flu.

But there are hopes that the machine being developed in a £2.3m European Union funded project at Nottingham Trent University has the potential to be used at the scene of a suspected outbreak or taken to a patient.

With the potential it will have to identify the strains that affect humans much more quickly, researchers say the machinery will save lives because the chances of survival increase if the condition is detected and treated earlier.

In Indonesia, for example, the death rate among the 102 people affected by the H5N1 strain has been 81%.

The H5N1 strain which affects poultry and has seen tens of millions of birds slaughtered worldwide cannot at present be easily passed between humans but there are fears the strain of bird flu could mutate and cross the species barrier and become a global pandemic.

Dr Alan McNally from Nottingham Trent University believes the portable technology could make a difference to those infected. By using a swab from a patient it can detect molecules specific to H5N1 or other bird flu strains.

Dr McNally said: "The ability to detect and type the influenza virus immediately is essential in setting up controls as quickly as possible to minimise the spread of any potential pandemic virus."


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