Scientists in Singapore have developed a kit that can test for the Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika viruses all at the same time in just two hours.
The three mosquito-borne viruses cause similar symptoms such as rashes and joint pain. Symptoms for the Zika virus are generally mild and go away within a week, causing the disease to be misdiagnosed.
The kit is ready for use and only costs a few dollars to produce. Dr Masafumi Inoue, a senior research scientist at the Agency for Science, Technology & Research’s Experimental Therapeutics Centre confirmed that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed interest.
Dr Masafumi Inoue is currently compiling clinical data for the health authority before sending the kit over for testing. If the testing is successful, the WHO may use the kit to test for the viruses.
As it is extremely important to quickly distinguish between the three major mosquito-borne viruses, the kit could prove incredibly useful in ensuring patients receive the required treatment and care without delay.
All that is required from the patient is a blood or urine sample. The genetic material of the virus is then extracted to find out what the virus is. The detection process takes two hours, reducing the time by threefold if each of the viruses were to be tested for individually.
The idea to develop the kit came about six months ago when Brazil had been hit badly by a large number of Zika cases.