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Two companies are close to field testing quick cheap Ebola diagnostic tests.

Testing new Ebola tests

... health officials are hoping they will soon have an additional tool to fight the disease: an easy-to-use, fast, and inexpensive diagnostic test for the responsible virus. Several teams are working on prototype kits—small disposable devices resembling home pregnancy tests—that use just a few drops of blood from a fingertip jab and can be carried easily to remote villages or on door-to-door screening campaigns. At least two of the potential diagnostics will undergo their first field trials in Guinea and Sierra Leone this fall.

Current diagnostic tests take several hours at least, and sometimes days. Clinics—and the teams that trace patients' contacts at risk of infection—rely on a molecular test that detects Ebola virus genes in blood using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The test is reliable and accurate, but it requires a blood sample taken by needle and secure transport to a laboratory with a steady supply of electricity, PCR machines, and lab workers equipped to handle highly infectious samples and to run the machines.

Suspected patients are often crowded together in makeshift wards, waiting for test results, which means uninfected people may inadvertently become exposed to Ebola. If a suspected case happens very far from the nearest diagnostic facility, it can be days before samples reach the lab and results return.

One of the new tests comes from a company called Senova in Weimar, Germany, which sent 2000 sample kits to Guéckédou, Guinea, earlier this month, where they are being run in parallel to the standard PCR procedure to determine how accurate they are. Meanwhile, researchers from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, in cooperation with Corgenix in Broomfield, Colorado, and other partners, say they could start testing a prototype rapid diagnostic test as soon as early October in Sierra Leone.

It should be noted that hospitals do not themselves test for Ebola, at least not in the United States at this time.

[emphasis mine]

How Hospitals Test for Ebola

PCR machines are roughly twice the size of a typical desktop PC, and can be moved around relatively easily, though they do cost tens of thousands of dollars depending on the model,...

An inexpensive, easy to use, rapid diagnostic test would be a huge boost in our effort to contain Ebola.

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Good news indeed!

This is very good news, indeed! I'm excited to see progress like this being made. :)

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