Cholera DNA Test for Water

Region: Haiti, Bangladesh
Purdue Collaborator: Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering

The Challenge

After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, a major cholera outbreak affected 2 million people, resulting in 150,000 deaths and $3.1 billion dollars spent on diagnostics alone. Cholera continues to be a major concern; seasonal outbreaks continue to ravage young children and pregnant women. Only one organization in Haiti, our partner, the University of Florida Emerging Pathogen Institute’s (UF-EPI) Haiti Lab has had regular, long-term, monitoring water sources for V. cholerae contamination. They are one of the only facilities in the country that can perform the intensive laboratory based culturing procedures that can detect cholera in water samples. This testing however, requires 3-7 days to perform and requires specially trained personnel to prepare, perform, and interpret the testing. Due to these constraints and the difficulty in traveling back and forth from the laboratory to the water sources, the UF-EPI’s Haiti lab is currently monitoring only 17 different water sources once a month for contamination

Person standing in water in Haiti

The Purdue Innovation

Given is a critical need to develop a simple, robust, highly sensitive platform that can detect the presence of V. cholerae field settings. Thus, the goal of this proposal is to advance the development of a new diffusion- based methodology that has the potential for order of magnitude improvement in the detection level of pathogen genetic material (nucleic acids) and could be deployable as a portable technology. By the end of this project we expect to have developed a near field-ready platform that provides UF-EPI in Haiti with sensitive cholera detection from water sources in <30 minutes. We believe that implementing a proactive approach identifying and responding to contaminated water sources, as opposed to a reactive approach responding to cholera infections in patients will be critical in advancing the eradication of cholera in Haiti.

Charts and Graphs from the project

The Partners

Florida Emerging Pathogens Institute, embedded in Haiti

Investigator Names

  • T. Kinzer-Ursem (PI)
  • Steven Wereley (Co-I)
  • Jacqueline Linnes, (Co-I)
  • Katherine Clayton (Graduate Student)

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