Ebola’s biggest threat concentration may be thousands of miles from the coast of New Zealand, but that hasn’t stopped Kiwis from leading the fight against Ebola with a new invention. A light-weight, mobile device developed by a team of New Zealand researchers is able to accurately find traces of viruses and bacteria — something that was previously only possible through gigantic machines. While Ebola has not yet reared its head in New Zealand, its citizens may help stop it, according to The Otago Daily Times.
Although medical equipment already existed to detect Ebola in New Zealand and everywhere else in the world, the necessary tests required burdensome equipment that was limited in the race to put an end to the mobile threat of Ebola. New Zealand’s device, however, is light, battery-powered, and can send results back to the laboratory seamlessly via smartphone.
Such swift and accurate technology could make it so that there is never any Ebola in New Zealand. As Ebola can be easily exported because of the speed of modern transportation, Freedom4 and devices like it could be the essential key in stopping it in its tracks. New Zealand’s University of Otago senior research fellow, Dr. Jo-Ann Stanton, says that if tests being carried out this week in the United States are successful, the Ebola virus could be diagnosed by Freedom4 within 90 minutes.
“You need to be able to tell very quickly who actually has the virus and who is suffering from something else. So we think that we could take our technology into the field and very quickly sort out who’s infected and who’s not.”
Stanton went on to say that on-the-spot testing is invaluable in the containment of viral outbreaks like Ebola, something that she hopes New Zealand continues to be a part of the development of.
“[It would be great if you could] walk off a plane and they take your temperature with an infrared. Maybe in a high alert situation like now you might be able to take those people [with high temperatures] aside and run a test on our device, which could indicate whether they are infectious or not.”
But even when the threat of Ebola in New Zealand has completely dissipated, the device may have lasting power for future generations and other viruses that they may confront, says senior research fellow Dr. Jo-Ann Stanton.
“If you look through our recent history. we have had pandemic flus, we have had SARS, we have now got the Ebola threat. There is no reason to think that there won’t be others.”
As far as the the government’s reaction to Ebola in New Zealand, officials are remaining calm, with some even chiding Australia’s panicked response over a West African migrant who eventually tested negative for Ebola. University of Otago professor Michael Bake downplayed the likelihood of Ebola making a stronghold in in the country, reported Radio New Zealand.
“This is not like a pandemic influenza or SARS, it is not a respiratory spread disease so I think that risk is very low.”
Do you think the device for testing Ebola in New Zealand will help the fight against the virus the in the rest of the world?
[Image via Flickr]