Diagnosis confusion between several deadly diseases may soon become a thing of the past.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School have developed a $2 paper strip that could test for three infectious tropical diseases that often have similar symptoms, such as fever and headache.
The paper test requires a serum sample – the separated liquid component of a blood sample – placed on the paper strip. The serum then reacts with silver nanoparticles on the paper, which change color if one of the three viruses is present, according to a paper published in the Royal Society of Chemistry in February. That paper described the serum test, but one of the researchers, Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli, told Latin Correspondent that they have formats where non-separated blood would work, making personal testing easy for both doctors and patients.
According to an article in Chemistryworld, the paper strip would cost only $2 and take just 10 minutes to give results. The article also said that the team is hoping to develop a mobile phone app that can help in tracking the spread of the diseases.
Ebola reemerged in the news last year during a devastating outbreak in West Africa. However, in the Americas, the mosquito-borne dengue virus remains one of the most problematic diseases.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), dengue cases quintupled between 2003 and 2013 in the Americas. WHO reported 2.3 million cases across North and South America in 2013, with 1,289 deaths and 37,705 severe cases. In comparison, WHO only reported nine deaths from yellow fever in 2012, the most recent year data was available.
Note: Haiti dengue data was not available from WHO.