In 1947, the first documented discovery of the Zika virus occurred. 80% of infected people do not know they have contracted the virus as the symptomology is generally mild. There is a heightened level of investigation to determine if a causal link exists between the Zika virus infections and the fetal malformations and cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome.
EUROIMMUN AG, a manufacturing company in Germany, has developed the first complete test package for the serological detection of the Zika virus (ELISA and indirect immunofluorescence tests to determine IgM and IgG antibodies). The test can detect current and past infection of the virus, and can be used for rapid screening in outbreak scenarios. The tests will be implemented shortly in studies at Fiocruz which is an institute associated with the Brazilian Health Ministry.
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Quote: “We’re always a step behind the next disease that emerges from the jungle or the hinterland…With a universal diagnostic such as this, we’ll be prepared for the next infectious threat – no matter what it is”, states Dr. Charles Chiu, an associate professor of Laboratory Medicine and director of the UCSF-Abbott Viral Diagnostics and Discovery Center.
Traditionally, clinicians and scientists have created virus tests using a one to one ratio, a “one bug, one test” formula. On a small scale, such as the hospital setting for a typical patient, these uniform tests may be beneficial as they limit the patient to unnecessary diagnostics. However, during large scale outbreaks, these tests cannot adopt or be created fast enough to deal with new viral threats. Manufactured by Oxford Nanopore Technologies, a new technique called “nanopore sequencing” uses a genetic sequencer and laptop software via the usb port to operate. This potentially field friendly device, provides analysis for multiple known pathogens within minutes of a single sample being loaded, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites known or unknown. Investigators will be travelling to South America, West Africa and the Caribbean to implement and test the technology in the field.