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Can sensors offer real-time disease detection?

Scientists are developing affordable sensors that could eventually be used to detect diseases in poultry sheds and alert producers to outbreaks in real time.

Researchers from Washington State University are investigating ways to link portable pressure-based detectors to smartphone software to create simple detection systems that alert producers to a problem as soon as it occurs, reports The Poultry Site.

Traditional sensors used to test for environmental pollution, disease and food contamination are often bulky, expensive and complicated to use.

But researchers Yuehe Lin, Yong Tang and colleagues believe a more intuitive system can be created based on pressure changes.

With the system they are currently developing, when a disease biomarker is present, it causes a chain reaction in the device which results in oxygen being released, and pressure building.

The pressure changes are measured by a parameter, and smartphone software provides a readout of the results.

So far the team has tested the sensor in a number of applications, including detecting rectopamine in animal feed, an additive that is banned in many countries.

Because the results are immediately available on a smartphone, the team thinks the method could enable real-time monitoring of environmental pollution and disease outbreaks in future.

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