Recent outbreak of Ebola virus that causes hemorrhagic fever shows that the quick detection of this virus in a resource-poor environment is extremely important for controlling the epidemic. Existing methods based on enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or isolation of the virus require expensive equipment, skilled personnel and the highest biosafety level. We highlight here a recent demonstration of low-cost low-maintence synthetic biology for detection of Ebola virus based on paper as a device substrate.