Public health authorities worldwide monitor viral outbreaks by genotyping both the human and animal hosts involved. This allows them to monitor and track potential pandemics/epidemics like the one seen recently with avian/swine influenza and the Zika virus.
Avian Influenza (AI) is a viral disease of poultry that has significant negative impacts on agriculture and can be zoonotic. AI is present in wild waterfowl and thus has a natural reservoir in which the virus can mutate and infect both wild and domestic fowls (chicken, turkey and duck).
The Canadian National Surveillance Program tests individual wild birds for AI detection. But the system was unable to predict the 2014/15 H5N2 AI Bird flu outbreak in the USA and Canada mainly because it failed to give a representative sample: it only tested individual wild birds obtained from traps, huntings or recovered dead birds where detection rates were ~1%. Critical sequencing data is often not collected from birds and certainly not from droppings that may come in contact with domestic fowl.
Using its QUANTUMProbe™ technology and the ONETest™ Ecosystem, Fusion developed the world’s only test capable of sequencing RNA from soil. The ability of ONETest™ to capture and sequence environmental samples is a ‘first in the world ’, with major implications for the use of such tests in agriculture. For example, soil-based microbiomes, which could be analyzed cheaply and easily using our technology, are expected to play a major role in advancing food production.