Research from Colorado State University will now help public health centers across the U.S. detect Zika virus cases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 123 Zika virus cases have been reported in the U.S. this year. Three of them were in Colorado.
CSU’s vaccine-making facility, BioMarc, created a material called a reagent that will help pinpoint which mosquito-borne illness a patient may be infected with. Genetic material from a live Zika virus was used to make the reagent.
Dennis Pierro, the director of BioMarc, said to make the reagent the virus had to be grown, then inactivated, then the virus’s genetic material had to be extracted and primed and prepped for the diagnostic kits the material is a part of.
Pierro said that an important part of what they’re doing is that they want detection to be right the first time, without pausing to question if it’s a false signal or not.
“You want to screen out background noise, some of these viruses can be genetically similar,” he said. “You want to say 'OK, we have detected a signal for Zika virus and we have not detected a signal for West Nile.'”
On that note, materials were also included to detect West Nile and dengue. The CDC is distributing the testing kits with the material created by CSU to medical centers across the U.S.