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The potential of diagnostic point‐of‐care tests (POCTs) for infectious and zoonotic animal diseases in developing countries: technical, regulatory and sociocultural considerations

Remote and rural communities in low‐ and middle‐income countries (LMICs) are disproportionately affected by infectious animal diseases due to their close contact with livestock and limited access to animal health personnel [1]. However, animal disease surveillance and diagnosis in LMICs is often challenging, and turnaround times between sample submission and diagnosis can take days to weeks [1]. This diagnostic gap and subsequent disease under‐reporting can allow emerging and transboundary animal pathogens to spread, with potentially serious and far‐reaching consequences. Point‐of‐care tests (POCTs), which allow for rapid diagnosis of infectious diseases in non‐laboratory settings, have the potential to significantly disrupt traditional animal health surveillance paradigms in LMICs. This literature review sought to identify POCTs currently available for diagnosing infectious animal diseases, and to determine facilitators and barriers to their use and uptake in LMICs. Results indicated that some veterinary POCTs have been used for field‐based animal disease diagnosis in LMICs with good results. However, many POCTs target a small number of key agricultural and zoonotic animal diseases, while few exist for other important animal diseases. POCT evaluation is rarely taken beyond the laboratory and into the field where they are predicted to have the greatest impact, and where conditions can greatly affect test performance. A lack of mandated test validation regulations for veterinary POCTs has allowed tests of varying quality to enter the market, presenting challenges for potential customers. The use of substandard, improperly validated or unsuitable POCTs in LMICs can greatly undermine their true potential, and can have far‐reaching negative impacts on disease control. To successfully implement novel rapid diagnostic pathways for animal disease in LMICs, technical, regulatory, socio‐political and economic challenges must be overcome, and further research is urgently needed before the potential of animal disease POCTs can be fully realised.

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Journal Article
Hobbs EC
Colling A
Gurung RB
Allen J