University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada) researchers have created a portable tool to predict avian flu outbreaks on farms.

U of G researchers devised a real-time way to analyze chickens and other farm birds for avian flu. The tool uses a small blood sample and relies on a simple chemical color change to see not only whether a chicken has avian flu but also what viral strain is involved.

Current tests require samples to be sent to a lab, where it can take eight hours to a couple of days to yield results. That’s too long, said professor Suresh Neethirajan, School of Engineering.

“Treatment, especially when dealing with humans who have been infected, needs to start as soon as possible,” he said.

“This test only needs two to three minutes to incubate, and then you get the results immediately. Not only that, but it is more cost-effective. Conventional techniques are time-consuming and labour-intensive, and require special facilities and expensive laboratory instruments.”

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