Mosquito and tick borne viruses can now be rapidly detected and identified within hours, instead of days or weeks with a newly developed diagnostic test.
In Asia, Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) “affects 50,000 people causing 10,000 deaths and 8,000 permanent disabilities. In 1995 JEV, previously unseen in Australia, killed two people in northern Queensland. Identification took more than two weeks and caused significant delays in the deployment of health officials, and the containment and eradication of the virus.The eradication was considered successful until it was detected again in 1996 and 1998. However, if this virus moves south to more densely populated areas, the number of people infected with JEV could be higher.”
Remote and regional facilities would be better served by the ability to rapidly detect and identify viruses that are not usually prevalent in a particular area. The new rapid diagnostic test provides a preliminary result within three hours, and positive identification in six hours of, for example, Yellow Fever, Dengue, Japanese encephalitis (JEV) and West Nile Virus.
Ms Sheryl Maher is a PhD student at the University of Queensland and is working on a research project funded by the Australian Biosecurity CRC for Emerging Infectious Diseases (Australian Biosecurity CRC). [17 May 2007, CRCA Conference]
Maher took part in Showcasing CRC Early Career Scientists, Cooperative Research Centres Association Conference, chaired by Professor Lyn Beazley, Chief Scientist of Western Australia.
Maher demonstrated the relevance and distribution of flaviviruses in Australia, and described the current and new methods to detect these viruses, including an anecdotal case study.
Current diagnostic test methods are cumbersome and time-consuming, and Maher emphasised that the longer the time taken to make a diagnosis, the longer the discomfort for the potentially infected person, and increased risk to them and others.
With the new diagnostic test, one blood sample can be used to test for more than 60 different viruses.
Using the new test, rapid detection and identification “allows us to make speedy diagnosis and take appropriate measures to identify the infection source and prevent further spreading of the virus”.