The breathalyzer, a device similar to an alcohol test, could come and confirm if someone has the flu virus or if they just suffer from a minor cold.
Over these past few months, more and more people have been affected by the flu. Influenza or simply the flu is an infectious disease. It can have mild to severe symptoms. These include a runny nose or coughing. But also muscle pain, high fever, and headaches or a sore throat. The flu can sometimes lead to more serious affections. These include sinus infections or pneumonia.
Now, a team of researchers has invented a new device. This can detect the flu virus almost instantly. As such, the breathalyzer can offer a faster diagnosis.
It was developed by University of Texas, Arlington scientists. The breathalyzer was developed under the lead of Professor Perena Gouma. She is part of the University’s Materials Science and Engineering Department.
Their device works similarly to the units used by the police. As the alcohol tests, it will also require the patient to exhale. It is a hand-held breath monitor. The breathalyzer was structured around specific semiconductor sensors. As such, it is also similar to carbon monoxide detectors. Such devices are also based on sensors.
But these ones have been developed so as to detect specific biomarkers. These latter have been linked to the flu virus. Still, the scientists also had to take into account other factors. For example, each health affection has its own specific set of biomarkers.
A person affected by asthma can present a higher concentration of nitric oxide. This will be detected in their breath sample. Diabetes patients will present acetone in their breaths. And these are just a few examples.
As such, the breathalyzer will come equipped with sensors. These will be able to detect ammonia. Or the nitric oxide. They will be taken into consideration when searching for the flu virus markers.
Professor Gouma released a statement. According to her, the breathalyzer could be an important tool. It could help revolutionize diagnostics. Her reason? The device can have a larger area of use. It was initially developed so as to detect the flu. But it could be adapted to spot other diseases as well.
For example, it could be used in detecting the Ebola virus. The breathalyzer is quite easy to adapt according to need. It can be done by simply changing the sensors.
The device should also be quite easy to use. And its lightness could make it accessible to the wide public. People could come to simply and quickly diagnose certain health issues. It may complete the tests carried out in a doctor’s cabinet.
Professor Gouma hopes that the breathalyzer will become a commonly used method. It could come to be sold in pharmacies. This would allow for an early diagnosis of the flu. The necessary medicine could be taken from even the earliest stages. Which could also help prevent future flu epidemics.
Further details about the breathalyzer were offered in a study paper. This was published earlier this week in the Sensors journal.
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