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B. Researchers Work to Detect Illness in Cows at a Cellular Level

Narrator: This is Science Today. Bioengineering researchers at the University of California, Davis are working on a concept of detecting illness in dairy cows at the cellular level - even before the illness shows up physically. Agriculture bioengineering professor, Michael Delwiche, says to do this, they're attempting to develop a somatic cell count monitor.

Delwiche: Somatic cells are part of a cow's cellular immune system and basically, they're white blood cells. If there is some kind of trauma or bacterial challenge to the udder of the cow, then the number of somatic cells in the milk is going to go up, because these are cells that sort of fight bacterial invasion.

Narrator: To measure how many somatic cells are in sample milk, UC engineers are also working on a detection system using fluorescent sensors, which could give dairy farmers fast, daily measurements of a cow's health.

Delwiche: None of these things are finished sensors that I could give to dairy farmer X and he or she could use - they're ideas, they're concepts.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.