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Health Matters

Zika Virus: Dr. Joaquim Chaves Lab is equipped with lab diagnosis techniques

Carlos Cardoso . 02/02/2016

Zika is a virus from the Flaviviridae family, transmitted to humans through infected mosquito bites. The infection caused by this virus is known as the Zika virus fever.

Incubation period ranges from 3 to 12 days and most infections are asymptomatic (according to scientific literature, 80% of infected people do not develop any clinical manifestations). Ifthere is a suspection of a Zika virus infection, blood or urine samples must be collected for direct detection of the virus. This is made through a viral RNA (ribonucleic acid) screeningusing nucleic acid amplification methods (PCR), ínthe acute phase of the disease. Alternatively, it is possible to obtain serum for the detection of IgM and IgG antibodies, during the acute or recovery stages of the disease.

Because the viremia period is short, direct blood testing should be done within 3 to 5 days after symptoms appear and urine testing within 10 days. From then on,o indirect diagnosis must be performed,by screening for Zika virus specific antibodies. Differential diagnosis and co-infection screening  for other mosquito transmitted diseases such as dengue, malaria and chikungunya should always be performed simultaneously with the previously mentioned tests.

At Dr. Joaquim Chaves Lab direct PCR techniques and indirect IgM and IgG serum techniques are available for screening all these diseases. This panel has recently been expanded to include  the Zika virus screening as this infection has been classified by the WHO as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

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