Researchers Make Smartphone Microscope to Detect Virus in Water

Sunday, September 15, 2019 - 11:48

Researchers from University of Arizona have created a smartphone device that could detect low levels of an extremely contagious virus in a matter of minutes.

While the virus typically only lasts a couple of days, it is highly infectious and can spread rapidly through populations. It also causes about 200,000 deaths globally each year, Tucson reports.

“It is highly contagious, so if you’re around somebody with norovirus, you have about an 80% chance of getting it yourself. It spreads rapidly through school systems, through long-term care facilities, dormitories at colleges,” said Kelly Reynolds, chair of the UA’s Department of Community, Environment and Policy.

Using a smartphone microscope, people can test water samples in real time. The microscope is attached to the smartphone, the water sample is inserted and then analyzed by an app.

The app will tell you how many norovirus particles are detected in the water sample. The most expensive part of the device — the smartphone microscope — costs less than $50.

“Together we produced a new method that was useful for the drinking water treatment industry,” Reynolds said. “This is valuable not just for Tucson Water, but for other industries and for public health in general.”

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