A TESTING kit for Ebola which has been developed by an international team including a Scottish university researcher has been deployed in West Africa after successful pilot projects.

Dr Manfred Weidmann, from Stirling University, said the saliva test, which can be carried in a suitcase-sized mobile laboratory, has outperformed the World Health Organisation's recommended methods in trials.

The new kit, which can diagnose Ebola within six minutes, is now being used in three mobile labs in Senegal and Guinea, with early results from analysis of more than 900 samples showing it performed "exceptionally well" on the ground, Mr Weidmann said.

He added: “There has been a huge push for robotic testing systems, but they are difficult to establish and expensive to maintain.

"Our project has successfully developed and deployed a low cost mobile laboratory using a rapid, highly sensitive and specific assay which can be stored at room temperature and operated by local teams with its own energy supply.”

It came as Sierra Leone - where Scots nurse Pauline Cafferkey caught Ebola - is expected to be declared free from disease. The WHO is expected to announce that the country is Ebola free, following 42 days of no new cases of the virus.

Pete Jones, Ebola response manager for the British Red Cross, said: "When the Ebola outbreak was at its peak last year, it felt like this day might never come.

"The fact that it has is down to the thousands of volunteers and health workers, from Sierra Leone and overseas, who day after day have cared for patients, buried the dead and worked in communities to improve understanding of Ebola - in doing so, taking huge personal risk and often suffering stigma.

"Sadly, however, this is only the beginning of the end. With Ebola still present in neighbouring Guinea, and much that is still unknown about the virus, there is a real possibility that it will resurface in Sierra Leone - one that we need to treat as a case of when, rather than if."

Ms Cafferkey, who is from Cambuslang in South Lanarkshire, first contracted the disease while working as a nurse at the Save the Children treatment centre in Kerry Town. A report found she was wearing a visor rather than more protective goggles, which she could not get to fit properly.

She was diagnosed in December after returning to Glasgow from the west African country via London.

Ms Cafferkey is still being treated at the Royal Free Hospital in north-west London, months after she was thought to have fought off the Ebola infection.

She suffered a bout of meningitis and her condition worsened, but she has now been treated with the experimental drug GS5734.

Dr Michael Jacobs, from the Royal Free Hospital, described the situation as "unprecedented", while the WHO said Ms Cafferkey was the only known Ebola survivor to develop meningitis months later.

Dr Jacobs, infectious diseases consultant at the hospital, told a press conference last month: "This is the original Ebola virus she had many months ago which has been inside the brain, replicating at a very low level, and has now re-emerged to cause this clinical illness of meningitis."

Meanwhile, Mr Weidmann, who has been working as part of a Wellcome Trust project led by the Pasteur Institute of Dakar, has also developed a range of tests to be used in future to detect other mosquito-borne viruses, such as Dengue virus and Rift Valley Fever virus.

He added: “Mosquito-borne viruses can affect high numbers of people much faster than Ebola and outbreaks of Dengue virus and Rift Valley Fever virus have recently erupted in West-Africa.

"The system represents real progress in the quest to take the laboratory into the field. Our molecular test platform can be adapted to other infectious agents so these mobile laboratories are a sustainable solution for diagnosis of infectious disease in the region and elsewhere.

"They will remain in Guinea and Senegal to be used after all the expert teams which have provided laboratory testing in the Ebola disease crisis have left.”