Researchers have developed a test that can identify bird flu in just 28 minutes, according to a study published this month in Nature Medicine. If bird flu mutates to a form readily passed among humans, rapid testing could be critical in identifying and containing an outbreak in its early stages. Current tests take between several hours and several days.
The test is "equally sensitive and is 440% faster and 2,000-5,000% cheaper" than those currently in use, according to a statement from the researchers. Testers use a throat swab taken from a subject and immerse it in a droplet of a compound that responds to specialized magnetic fields. A magnet helps pull out the virus' RNA, which is then tested.