A New Mosquito-borne Virus Warning

The U.S Centers for Disease Control have issued a travel alert for 14 countries and territories including Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.  The Level 2 alert advises “enhanced precautions” for women who are pregnant or seeking to become pregnant.

The danger is the Zika virus, a once-rare virus that has begun spreading rapidly from Africa and Asia to Latin America.  There is no vaccine or cure for the virus, and four out of five people exhibit no symptoms when infected.  Once a pregnant woman has been infected, the virus can spread to the placenta, then the brain of the fetus.  Zika has been linked to microcephaly, a birth defect where an infant’s brain is underdeveloped.

More than 3,500 Zika-related microcephaly cases have been reported in Brazil in the past three months.  Women in Colombia and Jamaica have been warned not to get pregnant.  The first U.S. case was recently confirmed in Hawaii (the infant’s mother had recently traveled to Brazil).

Zika is a flavivirus related to yellow fever, dengue and West Nile virus.  (Flavus is Latin for “yellow.”)  These viruses are primarily transmitted by the bite from an infected mosquito or tick.

German researchers recently developed a one-step array for detecting a wide range of flaviviruses simultaneously.  The method uses RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction), a technique used to detect RNA expression in molecular biology.  The researchers used a broad range of technologies to develop the assay, including an Agilent qPCR System.

Agilent technologies solutions are used to research vector-borne pathogens as well as mosquito repellants.

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