Stall-Side Test For Equine Disease May Assist With COVID-19 Detection

Scientists have discovered a way to use a cell phone’s camera to detect respiratory diseases like equine influenza in horses; that same technology could help identify COVID-19 in humans. These easily spread diseases can cause large death tolls, as well as economic loss and disruption of daily life.

One complication to slowing the spread of diseases like these are the is the lack of widely available testing that can offer speedy and accurate results, reports The Horse. This means that communities are unable to make informed recommendations regarding quarantines that can help control the spread of the disease.

Early diagnosis of disease, whether in horses or humans, is key to controlling the spread of disease, notes Dr. Brian Cunningham, an electrical and computer engineering professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. If obtaining results takes days, whether because of a backlog of samples or lab closures because of holidays, the virus has already spread before a positive result is even given. Adding to the potential delay in diagnosis and implementation of control strategies is that some affected patients may have more than one disease.

Cunningham has developed a testing technique for a variety of equine respiratory pathogens, including Streptococcus equi, EHV-1 and EHV-4, and equine influenza. The test uses nasal swabs to detect viral RNA, which is converted to DNA and then amplified in compartments on a silicon chip. Each compartment on the chip can be used to test for a different virus. The chemical reaction it produces replicates billions of copies of the original viral nucleic acid sequence. Fluorescent markers bind to the DNA during amplification, which can be seen on smartphone cameras as green light.

The entire test takes about 30 minutes and can be done stall side, eliminating the need to send samples to a lab and wait, possibly days, for results. With modification, the test could also be used to detect contagious human respiratory viruses like COVID-19.

Read more at The Horse.

The post Stall-Side Test For Equine Disease May Assist With COVID-19 Detection appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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