New cholera test may aid in stopping disease

University of South Florida scientists have recently developed a new test that may aid in helping to stop the spread of cholera.

The new test has the potential to allow aid workers to test water sources that could be sources of cholera contamination, according to

The testing works by using the sugar dextran to coat iron oxide nanoparticles. The mixture is then submersed in water. If cholera is present, the toxin will bind to the nanoparticles’ dextran.

Because the technique is cheaper and capable of producing results faster than those currently on the market, it could enable relief workers to limit the disease’s spread.

"It's really quite amazing," UCF assistant professor J. Manuel Perez, the lead researcher, said, according to "It means we have a quicker diagnostic tool using a simple and relatively cheap sugar-nanoparticle combination.”

More testing is still needed to prove the viability of the method, but its potential is obvious. Its impact could be substantial in countries with poor sanitation, where contaminated drinking water can often prove fatal. It could also prove useful in an environment where deadly toxins can result from bioterrorism or food contamination.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholera. It has a short incubation period and produces severe diarrhea that can lead to massive dehydration and death if not treated.