Brazilians create test that detects Zika virus in 20 minutes

Zika, a disease transmitted by Aedes aegypti , has been putting health officials on alert since the last few years.

In Brazil, the increase in diseases caused by vectors such as mosquitoes is generally accentuated by the lack of urbanization, basic sanitation and also by the incidence of rainfall, common at this time of the year.

Due to the favorable conditions for a faster spread of the virus here in Brazil, the cases of infection earlier this year were higher than those represented by the data last year.

According to the Ministry of Health, 2,062 cases of the disease were confirmed only at the beginning of 2019, while in 2018, 1,908 probable cases were recorded in the same period.

Although there is still no confirmed death from Zika in 2019, it is important that advances in this area happen, mainly to prevent new cases from arising, and potentially a new epidemic.

Based on this, scientists from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) have created a new method of detecting whether the person is infected or not with the Zika virus.

According to the authors, the rapid test is able to diagnose the person in just 20 minutes and is also considered simpler to handle compared to the detection methods already available on the market.

Still according to the researchers, the goal is that the new method is available at health centers by the end of the year.

How is the new test done?

The simple test developed is a kit with chemical reagents that indicates the presence of the infection, and according to the Foundation (Fiocruz) the intention is that a folder with the detection kits is sent to health centers throughout Brazil.

The procedure is considered simple and can be done by any health professional.

First, the patient will need to provide saliva or urine samples. Then, this material will be mixed together with the chemical reagents of the test and heated in a water bath.

All of this can be done in the basic health units, and depending on the color of the material after 15 minutes, it is already possible to have a diagnosis.

For example, if the mixture is colored yellow, contamination with the Zika Virus will soon be confirmed, and if the mixture turns orange, the result is negative, that is, the patient is not contaminated.

The difference between existing tests

Another test, called PCR and already on the market, despite its proven efficacy and safety, presents differences for the current invention.

First, the technique is expensive, since it is made with imported reagents, and it still has few laboratories capable of performing PCR in Brazil.

In addition, when it comes to detecting the disease, the current discovery is that the new test may be more accurate as well, even in cases that were not detected by PCR.

With the new discovery, it is possible to notice an advance in the detection of Zika, making it more accessible mainly to groups of risks, as residents in remote areas that use the basic health units as the main contact with the doctor.