July 20 2007 ~ "scientists at the labs are also working on a new test for viruses, such as rabies, bird flu and foot and mouth disease, which could cut the time taken to confirm an outbreak from up to ten days to only a few hours..."
So says this news release from the York Press Once again we are left wondering why the wheel has to be reinvented in this country when the Rapid or the SmartCycler, for example, are already being used in other parts of the world. As we saw last year in this letter from Roger Breeze to Dr James Irvine and to warmwell:
"....A RAPID PCR machine (www.idahotech.com) costs about £40,000 and the tests for exotic diseases like foot and mouth, classical swine fever, avian influenza, and Newcastle disease cost about £3 each. Of course, with other test reagents, this same machine can detect all the common animal diseases too (with the exception of BSE and scrapie)..... There are hundreds of scientists and technicians... who know how to do PCR tests (a standard lab tool) and who could learn the works of the RAPID in an afternoon. There are also plenty of labs with the necessary but minimal infrastructure to handle the analyses safely (when the sample goes into the test reagent tube any virus is inactivated so it can't cause disease)..... a lab system can be expected to give a result in less than 6 hours. .."Detecting pathogens by such on-site rapid means would ensure that action could be taken immediately - but, as Dr Breeze pointed out a year ago, in the UK a sample would be still on its way to Weybridge or Pirbright (or waiting at the airport, or going nowhere) for confirmation by conventional, and much, much slower, means. In January 2006 an avian influenza conference in Kiev was followed by hands-on avian influenza H5N1 detection training on the RAPID for veterinary lab staff from six countries.
Ever since the foot and mouth disaster of 2001 we have felt it to be incomprehensible that the UK is not making use of available, effective systems. Strange too, when dangerous diseases can strike at any moment, that scientists at York's Central Science Laboratory, an executive agency of DEFRA, are being paid to work on a UK model for use 'sometime in the future'. Are there any comments from readers about this?
'Burkie' in Kansas wrote: Yes, I have a comment.....several, as a matter of fact.
1. I believe that the UK Animal Health Labs are not willing to utilize this technology because:
a. They are already recognized as a World Reference Lab, by the OIE.
b. They are not willing to compromize their molecular lab testing procedures - which they currently insist are the "best" because this would, in net effect, be an admission that there are "better" ways to identify foreign animal diseases, which would negate their current lab status.
c. Their unwillingness to test already available on-site rapid diagnosis is over-ridden by the influences of certain individuals, already on their own staff, who have personal agendas to promote their own testing devices, and with that, the funding provisions are at risk for these people to continue their own R&D, to find the "Excalibur, " which already exists, and which they feel threatened by. -Why?- Money and notoriety.
No one has asked these people why they will not accept the technology, when now, all the reagents have been fine-tuned to the point that any sample for nearly any disease is easily-tested and results given in less than 30 minutes.
The UK scientists , who are developing their own products, have never been identified and named, who are working on their own agendas, under the "umbrella" of holding poisitions in these labs, and under the "guise" of product development.
Also, the blockade against already available on-site rapid diagnosis is almost unanimously-supported by Molecular Biologists, who feel insecure about their own jobs. Perhaps, it is simply a job-security issue and nothing more.
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