RIO DE JANEIRO – A group of Brazilian researchers has developed a molecular exam for diagnosing Zika within five hours, a much shorter time than current exams, and the new test will begin being used next week to facilitate studies on methods to combat the virus, academic sources reported Wednesday.
The exam, which is 100 percent accurate, detects Zika in samples of blood, saliva and urine, the University of Campinas announced, where scientists developed the test in association with colleagues at the University of Sao Paulo and the University of Sao Paulo State.
The test will be used starting next Monday to analyze samples from patients suspected of having Zika and receiving treatment at a hospital in Campinas, a city in the interior of Sao Paulo state.
The samples that test positive will be taken to other labs in Brazil where scientists will try to isolate the Zika virus to use it in studies to decipher its genetic sequence and in other research projects that could provide clues about tools to use to fight it.
The test differentiates among Zika, dengue and Chikungunya, all of which are transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and have similar symptoms.
The test will also replace the two methods being used currently and which take several days to diagnose the disease. Blood samples require five days for testing and urine samples eight days in these tests.
The Brazilian government and the World Health Organization recently declared health emergencies over the association between cases of microcephaly and neurological disorders in babies and Zika cases.
Brazil has launched an intense campaign to eliminate breeding sites for mosquito larvae.