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Rapid Test Helps Detect Dangerous Bacteria in Milk

Now, a fluorescent paper strip can within minutes detect pathogens in milk samples from cattle suffering from brucellosis. This disease can be transmitted to humans through contact or consumption of unpasteurized milk and undercooked meat of infected animals.

Researchers from the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Matunga have developed a cost-effective diagnostic tool that can detect the presence of Brucella abortus, the bacterium causing brucellosis.

“There are no laboratory facilities in rural areas to detect brucellosis, and samples have to be transported to cities,” said Swati Vyas, a research student at the department of pharmaceutical sciences.

“The strip that we have developed is similar to a pregnancy detection kit and can be done in 15 minutes,” said Vyas.

Currently, there are two tests to detect the bacteria– PCR and ELISA – which cost between Rs 25,000 and Rs 45,000 for testing 100 samples. Both the tests require skilled personnel and complex instrumentation. PCR does not yield accurate results, said the researchers.

“When we dropped a few microlitres of infected milk, the two fluorescent bands glowed, indicating contamination. Only one band glowed for bacteria-free samples,” added Vyas.

“The test could be useful for the food industry that maintains large herds of cattle for milk and milk products,” said Vandana Patravale, Professor, department of pharmaceutical sciences and technology.

“This test is a platform technology, and we are researching further for rapid detection of other microbial infections,” Patravale added.The team has now applied for a patent.

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