On The Go Diagnostics

WCS’ Mobile Laboratory: Challenges in many countries where we work include a lack of diagnostic laboratories and restrictions on transport of wildlife samples across international borders. To address these challenges, we built a mobile molecular diagnostics laboratory that we take with us when restrictions or diagnostic urgency makes performing in-country testing preferable or necessary. This has helped tremendously in health screening for our Burmese star tortoise reintroduction program in Myanmar, monitoring amphibians for amphibian chytrid fungus in Uganda, Rwanda and Peru, and capacity building and training to implement Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) diagnostics in the Russia Far East. As innovative platforms are being developed for diagnostics in the field, our WCS Molecular Program is taking advantage of these new technologies in our conservation projects. These include an ultra-portable DNA amplifier (PCR machine) that uses a smart-phone and app to collect data, and DNA extraction kit that fits in a small backpack. The goal is to be able to perform on-site disease diagnostics, test samples in the field or at country borders with immediate results in order to identify species in the illegal wildlife trade or to identify species in the environment. 

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