Scientists have recently used an iPhone 4S to diagnose intestinal worm infections in schoolchildren in rural Tanzania.


The impact on children

LCNTDR logo Researcher Dr Isaac Bogoch, who specialises in internal medicine and infectious diseases at Toronto General Hospital said: "The (iPhone) microscope was very good at diagnosing children with heavier infection intensities as there are more eggs, so they are easier to see...These parasitic infections cause malnutrition, stunted growth, and stunted mental development".
Intestinal worms are estimated to affect up to two billion people around the world, mainly in poor areas.

Using the iPhone


Dr Bogoch, told the BBC he had read about smartphone microscopes being trialled in a laboratory and decided to, "recreate it in a real world setting...The technology is out there. We want to use materials that are affordable and easy to procure."

The researchersattached an $8 (£5) ball lens to the handset camera lens, and used a cheap torch and double-sided tape to create an improvised microscope. Pictures were then taken of stool samples placed on lab slides, wrapped in cellophane and taped to the phone.

They were studied for the presence of eggs, the main sign of the presence of the parasites. When the results were double-checked with a laboratory light microscope, the device had managed to pick up 70% of the samples with infections present - and 90% of the heavier infections.

[Image credit: Issac Bogoch]