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We asked: Is there any chance that the RBS (Rapid Biosensor) breathalyser could be or will be adapted for use in detecting the presence of Mycobacterium bovis?

"The problem is more complex than the devising of what is a reasonably simple test, and is not in reality confined to simply a biochemical rationale."

Thank you for your enquiry to my colleague......, she has, as you now see, passed it on to me for further confusion.

In answer, let me first say that there is no reason of which I am currently aware why our technology could not, in the most broad terms, detect Bovine TB. The problem however as I understand it, is more complex than the devising of what is a reasonably simple test, and is not in reality confined to simply a biochemical rationale.

Dealing with the test as the starting point, we are faced with the collection of a sample that must, as you will appreciate, contain the active bacteria that in turn must come from the upper area of the animals lungs. As has been cogently pointed out to me by a very senior veterinary surgeon, getting a beast weighing in at something close to a ton and with a recalcitrant nature to boot, to "cough" into something, will never be an easy thing to do! ...

Moving on, while I can not speak for the efficacy of the current methodology or tests, it is true to say that the administering of this test is done by Vets (Ministry approved????) who charge for their time and the tests, also the return visits to compare results. Some reasonable income derived here I think, as such it would seem unlikely that they would be willing to deprive themselves of this, plus I dare say that it provides an opportunity to inspect for other conditions that might affect the viability of the herd and so on, it is a thought anyway.

To summarise; I can easily share your friends concern and while I speak, I would be reluctant to state that "yes, we can assure you," and so on, it is my belief that in a reasonably short period of time our technology, in some future guise, will be competent to detect the Bovine strain and while it will most certainly not be as a breath sample, there are several avenues that we have just not bothered to investigate as yet, concentrating as we are on the human strain, it would be foolish of me not to recognise the commercial aspect of the agricultural side of things and accept that there will be someone just waiting to exploit that area.

A sincere thanks to you for your interesting question, please keep an eye on our technology as one can never know just when these things can happen.