Poor animal and welfare can be a major source of economic loss for Irish Farmers. For example, Bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) is one of the world's most costly bovine diseases with an estimated annual cost of €102 million to Irish farmers prior to the eradication scheme. Other loss making illnesses include IBR, Liverfluke and Johne’s disease. Because of the highly contagious nature of these diseases, early identification and diagnosis is critical for herd protection to prevent costly outbreaks. Current detection mechanisms rely on commercial laboratories which can be costly with significant wait-time for results.
The availability of a cheap and effective on-Farm test, using milk or serum, would allow veterinarians and farmers to rapidly diagnose different diseases and allow them to implement treatment early in order to prevent costly outbreaks. Tyndall National Institute in collaboration with our colleagues in Teagasc (Dr. Riona Sayers Moorepark) are using nanotechnology to develop a cost-efficient nanowire chip sensor, to provide on-site disease testing in cows within 15 minutes. Our sensor works in a similar fashion to existing glucose tests for people with diabetes. We place a drop of blood or milk from an animal on the sensor and get a positive or negative response for BVD – right there, on the farm.