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Friday, 9 September 2016


A strain of the Zika Virus has been sequenced by a team of researchers. This will be used as a World Health Organization (WHO) reference strain to identify Zika virus infection in the blood, hence diagnosis of Zika will be easier. As published in Genome Announcements – a Journal of the American Society for Microbiology, the agency has given the approval for the strain's use given the urgent need of medical products to diagnose and treat Zika; although the reference material will still undergo formal WHO review in October.

Zika virus is turning to be a pandemic disease if not checked on time. While most infections are mild and asymptomatic, the World Health Organization declared the current Zika epidemic a public health emergency of international concern because of complications that may arise in newborns when pregnant mothers contract the infection. Microcephaly and other Central Nervous System abnormalities have been detected in large numbers of fetuses and neonates since the epidemic struck Latin America. It’s been suggested that Zika Virus is also implicated in Guillain-BarrĂ© Syndrome – a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.

"WHO's go-ahead before it's expert committee meeting in October reflects the urgent need for researchers and companies to access valid reference material to diagnose Zika virus infection," said principal investigator Sally Baylis, PhD, senior scientist, Virus Safety section, Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, Langen, Germany. "This will facilitate the development of sensitive, better performing tests to detect Zika in patients."
Baylis further explained that reference standards from the World Health Organization are used to harmonize assays for diagnostic testing, particularly in the case of acute infection, as well as assays that might be used to screen blood for transfusions, and to define regulatory requirements for test sensitivity where screening is implemented.

Culled from Medical News Today from an Article based on “Genome Sequence of a Candidate World Health Organization Reference Strain of Zika Virus for Nucleic Acid Testing” by Sally A. Baylis and his team of Researchers.


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