Roche has announced the launch of its cobas Zika test to markets that accept the CE mark.

The cobas Zika test, which is intended for use in screening blood donations, is compatible with the cobas 6800/8800 systems.

The qualitative in vitro nucleic acid screening test is for the direct detection of Zika virus RNA in plasma specimens from donors of both whole blood and blood components, and other living donors. The test provides solutions for blood services to detect the Zika virus to ensure that infected blood units are not made available for transfusion.

Zika is linked to brain defects in foetuses and newborns and neurological complications in children and adults. The virus is mainly spread through the bite of infected mosquitos, but infected blood from an asymptomatic donor which is used in a transfusion could serve as an additional transmission route for the virus.

French authorities have recently reported three cases of Zika infection which appear to have been acquired locally, highlighting the ongoing need for blood banks to be prepared with solutions for tropical diseases.

Roche head of molecular diagnostics Mario Torres said: “Together with cobas CHIKV/DENV to screen for chikungunya and dengue viruses, the cobas Zika test provides a solution for preserving blood safety in regions with local outbreaks of these tropical diseases or from donors who may have been exposed while traveling to outbreak areas.

“Launching the cobas Zika test in markets accepting the CE mark expands the emergency preparedness solution for our customers and helps minimize the risk of transmission through infected blood and plasma donations.”

The cobas 6800/88000 systems are fully automated and offer the fastest time to results, highest throughput and longest walk-away time available among automated molecular platforms, Roche said.

Not all of the assays available for the systems are available in every market worldwide.