US-based developer of multiplexed molecular assays GenArraytion has introduced a new polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based molecular test to detect the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus.
Zika virus is a fever-causing disease transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
The test works with an existing GenArraytion Multiflex bioassay panel, which targets viruses that cause dengue fever, yellow fever and Chikungunya.
The Aedes aegypti bioassay test is said to target four genetic regions of the Zika virus, which will reduce the possibility of viral mutations that are expected to enable the virus to escape detection.
The Zika virus test, along with other Multiflex molecular assays, allows health officials to identify infectious diseases in panels with up to 20 genetic markers for fever-causing and vector-borne disease organisms of concern.
The company developed its tests to work on bead-based endpoint instruments and real-time PCR platforms.
GenArraytion CEO Dr Paul Schaudies said: "The Zika virus has the potential to become a serious epidemic, with as many four million people risking exposure in the next year if the mosquito population is not controlled, according to the Pan American Health Organisation.
"GenArraytion’s test directly identifies the virus, thereby making it easier for public health officials to rapidly pinpoint sources of infection and to eradicate infected mosquito populations."
The Zika tests are currently available as research use only (RUO) tools, which can be used to monitor mosquito populations and identify the presence of harmful pathogens for targeted mosquito eradication.
In January, the World Health Organisation reported the Zika virus is spreading rapidly and could infect up to four million people in the Americas.
The virus is mainly linked to severe birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil.
Image: An electron micrograph of the Zika virus. Photo: courtesy of CDC / Cynthia Goldsmith.