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Zika Reference Strain Sequenced, Will Aid in Diagnosis, Screening

Zika virus to spread to all but 2 countries in the Americas, WHO predictsAn international team of researchers has sequenced a strain of the Zika virus that will be used as a World Health Organization (WHO) reference strain to identify Zika virus infection in the blood, thus making it easier to diagnose the disease. While the reference material will undergo formal WHO review in October, the agency has given the go-ahead for the strain’s use given the urgent need of medical products to diagnose and treat Zika. The sequence is published September 1st in Genome Announcements, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology. “WHO’s go-ahead before it’s expert committee meeting in October reflects the urgent need for researchers and companies to access valid reference material to diagnose Zika virus infection,” said principal investigator Sally Baylis, PhD, senior scientist, Virus Safety section, Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, Langen, Germany. “This will facilitate the development of sensitive, better performing tests to detect Zika in patients.”

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