Chips could speed up detection of livestock viruses

March 31st, 2008 - 1:48 pm ICT by admin  

London, March 31 (IANS) A simple screening chip developed by scientists would quickly identify bird flu, foot and mouth disease and other emerging viruses - some of the worst threats to farm workers and animals. Known as the new micro-array, the chip can detect up to 300 different viruses that infect humans and animals and had helped identify the last major outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) on the China-Hong Kong border.

The rapid identification of the virus helped bring it under control, with loss of only a few lives, in spite of its seriousness, said Paul Britton of the Institute for Animal Health in Compton.

“The great advantage of this micro-array-based diagnosis is that you don’t even have to know which virus you are looking for. It can be used in the early stages of a disease outbreak to quickly identify the threat to people or animals,” said Britton.

The chip contains specific small regions of virus genes that react with any viruses in the samples being tested, showing up as coloured spots on glass slides. The method can also be used to see if a sample contains two or more viruses.

“At the moment the common methods for detecting viruses rely on some previous knowledge, such as recognising the clinical signs of a disease,” said Britton.

These findings were presented on Monday at the Society for General Microbiology’s 162nd meeting at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

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