Foot and mouth diagnosis in less than 90 minutes

Foot and mouth disease and avian flu could soon be diagnosed on-farm in less than 90 minutes, thanks to a new portable detection system.

Smiths Detection has developed new technology that will enable vets to diagnose diseases in livestock and birds on farm, rather than sending samples for laboratory analysis.

Working with the Institute for Animal Health (IAH), initial focus has been on identifying assays for foot and mouth and avian flu; however a wide range of other disease tests will soon be available.

The system uses a well-established technique – Polymerase Chain Reaction – to detect and analyse infectious diseases, all encased in a rugged portable device ideal for the veterinary profession.


Building on their experience in the bioterrorism sector, Smiths’ technology allows vets to run up to five independent tests simultaneously, with analysis available in under 90 minutes. The unit can then be decontaminated on location, allowing rapid turnaround in an outbreak situation.

Speaking of the development, managing director of Smiths Detections said: “This breakthrough moves our biological detection and identification activities into an important commercial market.

“We are putting laboratory science in the hands of the vets.”

Work on an assay to detect the bluetongue virus is currently underway. 

The new system will be launched at the World Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians conference, to be held in Australia in November 2007 and is set to be in production in mid 2008.