Researchers develop an accurate Zika test


Researchers from the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) have developed a test that can confirm a Zika virus infection with certainty, even after the acute infection phase.

So far, only a molecular test was available which provided certainty but which was only useful for a limited period, about five to seven days after infection with the virus.

According to Professor Kevin Ariën, Head of the Unit of Virology at the ITM in Antwerp, the virus is added to a blood sample of the patient when carrying out this newly developed neutralisation test in the laboratory. That way we can establish with certainty   whether antibodies against Zika virus are present, even after the acute infection phase.

Due to the potential risk of abnormalities in the foetus, certainty of the diagnosis is crucial for pregnant women according to Dr. Marjan van Esbroeck, Head of the Clinical  Laboratory at the ITM.

Each week, the laboratory analyses on average thirty suspected Zika blood, urine and semen samples. A total of twelve Zika infections  have been diagnosed so far, three of which were confirmed using the new neutralisation test.